Pak farmers to carry out ‘Tractor March’ on March 31 against Imran govt over high inflation

Islamabad: Farmers in Pakistan are set to carry out a “Tractor March” towards Islamabad on March 31 against the Imran Khan government over high inflation and other issues.

According to sources, members of Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (literally meaning Pakistan Farmers’ Unity), Punjab Water Council and various other farmers associations have decided to carry out a “Tractor March” for forcing their “legitimate” demands.

The announcement was made on Tuesday at a joint press conference addressed by Khalid Mahmood Khokhar, President of small landholders’ body Pakistan Kissan Ittehad; Afaq Tiwana of the Farmers Associate Pakistan, which represent large landholders, Punjab Water Council Convener Farooq Bajwa and others, reported Dawn.

Farmers are going to submit various grievances including unfair taxation, anti-farmer policies, sky-rocketing prices of electricity, and fertilizers.

Members of the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government are accusing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members of misguiding the farmers and inciting them to undertake similar pressure tactics as being followed by the Indian farmers in New Delhi, said sources.

The Diplomat last month had reported that multiple Pakistani farmer leaders, under the leadership of the organisation Pakistan Kissan Ittehad, met on February 21 to work out a roadmap to launch a protest.

“The Pakistani farmers are set to rally with a list of demands, including the fixing of the minimum support price (MSP) per maund (40 kilograms) of wheat at 2,000 Pakistani rupees and sugarcane at 300 rupees, in addition to setting a flat electric power rate of five rupees per unit for farm tube-wells.

Pakistani farmers have had a tough 12 months. With the unprecedented wheat and sugar crisis taking a toll in the country, the Imran Khan government has been criticised by the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for ignoring the farmers’ plight.

The Diplomat quoted Pakistan Kissan Ittehad President Zulfikar Awan as saying: “The seed control rate has gone up from 7,500 rupees to 14,000 rupees. The minimum support price for wheat was 1,400 rupees – we never even got that. Fertilizer was priced at 2,500 rupees but now it costs 4,500 rupees; urea was 1,300 rupees, now it’s 1,800 rupees. There is so much input-output disparity for Pakistani farmers that our products just cannot compete with other countries.”