ISLAMABAD   -   President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President AKIA, Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said middlemen are responsible for the unprecedented hike in prices of edibles before the arrival of the holy month of Ramazan. People of Pakistan which is an agricultural country will never get fruit, vegetables, milk, meat, and poultry products at a reasonable price unless the ‘Arthi-Mafia’ is discouraged through state’s intervention, he said. Similarly, the farmers will never get the fruit of their labour as long as they are in clutches of this mafia, said Mian Zahid Hussain. He said that the middlemen operating in the agriculture sector continue to work without any documentation, control or taxes and they are responsible for poverty among farmers and intensification of the issue of food security. The mafia has damaged agriculture sector to an extent that nobody is willing to invest in it which is unfortunate, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that if a broker buys something at the rate of Rs20 per kilogram from a farmer, he sells it for almost Rs100 per kg which is exploitation of grower and the consumer. A margin of 80 to 85 percent cannot be justified under any circumstances, he said, adding that the rising trend of all agricultural products proves that the measures to control prices only exist in books and statements. There is no mechanism to check the activities of middlemen and there is no limit on their profits which emboldens them to milk producers and consumers. The earning of middlemen cannot be termed as profit but extortion and they would continue to plunder masses as long as the agricultural sector is not documented and they are not controlled.