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Export restrictions hurting farmers -letter

District Coordination Officer (DCO) Chitral has imposed restriction on marketing of agriculture products outside Chitral under section 144. The purpose of this restriction is to ensure the availability of edible item in the local market. The main items marketed outside Chitral are Potato, Peas, Pear, Apple and some dry fruits. When the rate of these items is compared with market o Rawalpindi and Islamabad there is difference of Rs 50-120 per kg.

This decision is not justifiable and it should be treated as economic assassination of the poor farmers of the area. No administrator has the right to restrict open trade within the country, being a citizen of Pakistan it is the fundamental right of people of Chital to market their products in any part of the country legally. As far as shortage of edible items is concerned, it is the responsibility of the district administration to ensure the availability of such items in the market without exploiting any segment of the society. The poor farmers of Chitral are growing agriculture products in their own farms, purchasing agriculture inputs i.e. seed, pesticides and fertilizer etc from their own income and paying high prices. Always they are being exploited by the whole-sellers by making artificial shortage of such inputs in market during the peak agriculture season. From sowing to harvesting and marketing, the poor households are contributing their own efforts. DCO has not allotted any government owned land to such people for growing agriculture products, no subsidy on agriculture inputs has been given by the government, no other facility i.e. loan, technical support for growing, harvesting and marketing of such products has been extended by DCO. All such activities have been completed by the farmers and their family members and in the last stage when product is ready for sale, DCO has interfered to decide the selling prices on his own discretion and without taking the farmer's representatives into confidence. He has no inherited right on land where products is growing.

It is pertinent to mention here that by controlling the marketing of few items i.e. potato, peas apple etc, the shortage of other edible items in Chitral market can not be controlled. A large quantity of oil/ghee, rice, wheat and other edible items are being smuggled illegally to Afghanistan via Nawapass and Torkham boarders, this illegal smuggling has created shortage of such items in different parts of Khyber Pokhtunkha and Chitral is one of the most affected district of such illegal smuggling. How the DCO Chital can control this smuggling to ensure the availability of edible items in Chitral market. When we are looking into the situation of Chitral market, from the past many years few people have captured the market, they are exploiting more than half a million population of the district by charging high prices of edible commodities according to their own choice and district administration has not been able to implement proper pricing mechanism. The shortage of ghee during the last two months is the live example of district administration's failure.

My suggestion to DCO Chitral is that he should revise his decision and allow the producers to market their products to down country for getting competitive rates. Another option could be providing subsidy to the farmers, the price difference between the down country and Chitral market shall be paid to farmers from government fund to stop the selling of products outside Chitral. Without giving this option to farmers such restriction could be considered the assignation of the farmers. The people of the area should approach to different human rights agencies against this decision. --Sarwarud-Din Karimabad Chitral, 07 Sep 10



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