LAHORE - The incumbent government is responsible for the shortage of fertilizer ahead of Rabi season and those involved in this heinous crime should be awarded exemplary punishment so that no hoarder could dare to deprive countrys farmers of agri inputs or sell the same on exorbitant prices. This was the upshot of the speeches of speakers at a forum Shortage of Fertilizer held here on Friday at Aiwan-e-Waqt Forum, Nawa-i-Waqt Building. Those who spoke on the occasion included Agri Forum Pakistan Chairman Ibrahim Mughal, Pakistan Agricultural Scientists Association President Ch Jamshaid Ahmad Cheema, Kissan Board Pakistan Deputy Secretary General Akhtar Farooq Meyo and Sheikhupuras prominent agriculturist Arif Khan Sandheela. While speaking on the importance of fertilizer in the country, Ibrahim Mughal said that Rabi season is drawing near in which farmers across the country would use over 202 million acres of countrys land for wheat crop, 3 million acres for pulses and around 30-35 million acres for the cultivation of potatoes. He said that at a time when Rabi season is just to start and country desperately needs above 70 million bags of fertilizer, it is being sold in black market on exorbitant rates on the pretext of shortage. He claimed that hoarders have stocked urea in a bid to reap maximum profit, pushing aside the interests of the peasants and country, he added. While giving statistics of urea production, Ibrahim Mughal said that Pakistan can produce only 40 million bags of urea while it needs over 70 million bags. The rest 30 million bags are usually imported from foreign countries including Saudi Arabia. He warned that time for Rabi season is very short and the officials concerned are not taking action to import urea. He, however, suggested that government should depute honest officials for delivering urea to farmers, otherwise, people with vested interests, in a bid to get maximum kicks-backs, would create black marketing scenario like that of Musharraf era. Ibrahim Mughal further said that Punjab being largest food basket area, where around 80 per cent of countrys cultivation takes place, needs 203 million bags of imported fertilizer. He demanded the government to ensure import of urea fertilizer in time otherwise farmers would be unable to cultivate their lands on time that would ultimately raise the prices of food items. Chaudhry Jamshaid Cheema, while speaking on the occasion, said that Pak economys mainstay is agriculture and if the prices of agri inputs are inflated, the prices of food items would not only increase but also people would have to face a shortage of these items. He said according to UN report, the consumption of flour in Pakistan has reduced sharply as peoples power of purchase has declined significantly, adding that the ratio of poverty has been increased not only in Pakistan but also in the whole world due to expensive agri inputs. Akhtar Khan Meyo said that though Pakistan is an agriculture country but governments wrong policies are ruining the very base of agriculture. He said that so far fertilizer is being sold on different prices in different areas in accordance with the demand and supply phenomenon. The hoarders are plundering innocent farmers but officials concerned of government are taking no punitive measures as they have also become the cog of corrupt machinery. He claimed that fertilizer dealers are getting up to Rs 400 profit margin on each bag.