Fertilizer for the vegetables

We are vegetables. Give us our food and we will be green, some of the colorful amongst us being red and pink to add variety. There may be some people who are as sophisticated as, say, an onion with their layers of insulation, indifference, intellect or some other induced protection. Some, the real gems, may even be fruits. But all in all, we as countrymen are no more than plants that have accepted their fate of either withering out with time, or being really luck and be served on a ‘china’ platter to the highest bidder (pun definitely intended).

Our country really has a great threshold for pain. We should be proud of that. No, really we should. Not physical pain, but extreme mental torture to our collective intelligence (remember, we are vegetables). The dollar is at its highest ever to the rupee. Zardari, now a teenager without the pimples, thinks that India was never a threat. The biggest money-makers for us, the farmers, are the lowest in the food chain. We essentially now do not have a food chain as such. Inflation has put balloons to shame and our government is perhaps making the animal kingdom proud.

Did you know that the farmer was to be paid Rs 950 per maund for his wheat crop? This was rightly hailed as a sensible decision to first, produce surplus wheat and secondly, to inject billions to the rural economy. A great sign, some would think. No, not really. I have been a farmer for the last three years. The input costs in the form of fertilizers and diesel has grown not linearly, but exponentially. The seemingly large increase from the Rs 650 to Rs 950 per maund does not bring the percentages at par. No one seemed to care about that, of course. We were, being lettuces and onions, overjoyed at the increase in support price. No one cared that the international rate is somewhere at Rs 1200, no one cared that the smuggling will not be stopped, no one cared. Lettuces and pea-pods are not supposed to think about things like that. So, the animals that rule the plant kingdom, hit us with an absurdly crude weapon; they increased the fertilizer prices from Rs 3,100 to Rs 5,500. So, you get 350 per maund increase in wheat price. National average of wheat production is dismal 20 something maund per acre. Let us make that 29 mnd/acre. With 350/mnd increase, the farmer stood a chance of making an extra 350*29= Rs 10,150 per acre from his anticipated wheat crop. The vegetables rejoiced at this higher mathematics. The animals, cool as a cucumber (ha!), saw the anticipated surplus, so they increased the input fertilizer prices. Who cares about the sky-high diesel rate? And water, who needs water for crops? Let our friendly India have some, they are hardly a threat of course. What, you have electricity to take water from wells? Double the electricity rate so your threshold for mental torture stays exercised. ‘Give me some of that 10 thousand now, why don’t you. Although you will be making that in April next year, why don’t you just give some of that cash to me now?’

And as farmers go, they will complain, they will complain some more. You and I will not hear about it, but they will complain. It will not fall on deaf ears, only trained ones. Lahore will have its food on the table. It will a little less, but who cares. Who notices? How many of us know how much lentils cost? Heck, how many know the difference between masur and channa?

Remember, farmers are more than 70 percent of Pakistan. Out of the other 30 percent, a whopping 90 percent or so have their income directly tied to this wonderful sector. Who in his right mind say that Pakistan’s economy is dependent on Agriculture, on wheat, milk and rice? Pakistan is a country of vegetables.

Take the power back, why don’t you.

2 Comments so far

  1. Hasan Mubarak (hasanmubarak) on October 9th, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

    I really agree with your wonderful insight into the ‘vegetable kingdom’ of ours where all plants are starving for the worse. But who is the gardener here? Who should we curse? Or will we end up cursing ourselves in pursuit of finding that ‘right’ person to curse??

  2. kaami on October 10th, 2008 @ 1:02 am

    The answere is, You run agriculture as a business i.e caculate your input costs, your labour costs, put your profit on top of it. Pay your taxes and pocket the rest. If you cant manage that, then either close shop, sell it to some one or better still try new approach / new markets. This is how all the businesses are run and if they don’t succeed they perish. If in the US markets I can find fresh mint from Vietnam (the country which was bombed to the ground by US) , they finally had their revenge, not by blowing themselves up but by exporting green mint. The question is why can’t we do it?

    The fact is as a nation we have never thought about exporting fresh green mint to US instead we are pre-occupied by international politics and far flung conflicts. To top it off, we are desperate to play a role in them. Our society is too politicised and though we have a hard working populace but it’s easily distracted by slogan mongering ideologs.

    I am not the one who advocates waiting for a messiah. I just want common sense to prevail. In the modern world, in order to progress we don’t need idealistic systems, we just need 10 years of sustained economic growth (above 6%), an enterprising middle class, guided by a critical mass of entrepreneurs. We need a society were politicians are marginalized and military has no use. Where wealth is being generated in direct proportion to the efforts put in by its population. This is what is happening in China, India and South East Asia, so why can’t it happen here. Unless of course you want justice to prevail, Jihad to be formalized and the whole damned occupied territories wherever they are in the world be liberated.

    The economic prosperity is the key, it does not come overnight, it requires hard (uninterrupted) work by a generation and later on when the middle/merchant class gains strength then all cherished values such as democracy, justice and merit may take permanent hold.

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