HYDERABAD  -    The Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) has demanded of the Federal and Sindh Government to announce Rs100 billion agriculture package for the province’s farmers in budget 2019-20.

Addressing a press conference at Hyderabad Press Club on Sunday, the chamber’s President Qabool Muhammad Khatian also called for compensation by the State Bank in case of further devaluation of rupee against dollar.

Khatian warned that the chamber would launch a province-wide protest movement after Eidul Fitr if the central and provincial governments did not accept their demands.

“The conditions of International Monetary Fund (IMF) will lead to destruction of the agricultural economy and farmers,” he cautioned.

He said the rupee devaluation would increase the cost of cultivation as many agricultural inputs like DAP fertilizer, pesticides, hybrid seed and tractors, among others, were imported items.

He added that the federal government had already withdrawn subsidy from fertilizer, diesel, tractors and agricultural machinery.

The SCA claimed that Sindh’s wheat farmers had suffered financial losses to the tune of around Rs. 20 billion because of inordinate delay in opening of the wheat procurement centers by Sindh government.

He claimed that in absence of government procurement, for which the Sindh Food Department had set the rate of Rs1,300 per 40 kilogram of wheat, the middlemen were exploiting the wheat farmers by paying a lower rate.

Reading out demands of the SCA, Khatian called for Rs50 per liter subsidy on diesel; Rs1,500 subsidy on DAP, Rs1,200 on NPT and Rs800 on fertilizer bag; and at least 40 percent subsidy on pesticides, hybrid seeds and other machinery.

The chamber also demanded waiver of excise and custom duties on tractors and agricultural machinery.

“There has been a rise of 30 percent to 40 percent in prices of diesel, fertilizer, seeds and hybrid seeds, tractors and hybrid machinery but the rates of crop offered to the farmers have remained almost stagnant for a decade,” deplored Khatian.

Earlier, the SCA took out a protest rally which started outside the Model School and culminated at the press club.