Friday, 20 May, 2022

Fertiliser Shortage Protests

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 28th January, 2022 02:56:02 PM
  • Print news


In its attempts to pile on pressure on the ruling government, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has announced that it would stage a sit-in outside Karachi Press Club on Jan 30 to protest against massive hike in the prices of essential products, including petrol and electricity, and also against shortage of gas and fertiliser in the country. This announcement was made during the Kissan March which was held in Karachi and other parts of Sindh on the appeal of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to protest against urea shortage and other economic hardships faced by the growers in the country.

The agricultural sector has been suffering in recent years and especially during the pandemic as Pakistan faces serious food insecurity challenges. Compounding these issues are the effects of climate change as crop yields have been adversely affected. The situation is made more severe by already strained water availability that is expected to worsen over the coming decades. The PPP is attempting to spin the narrative that the PTI government is insensitive to the plight of farmers and is responsible for the current urea shortage. Leaders of the PPP have stated that these protests along with the farmers will continue in the province till February 27 when Mr Bhutto-Zardari would lead a long march from the city to Islamabad against the government.

The grievances of the farmers are legitimate as they claim that they have not been getting adequate prices for their produce and are now being forced to stand in lines and pay high prices for sourcing fertiliser. This strategy could work well for the PPP in terms of applying further pressure on the PTI government given the street power farmers possess. Perhaps the opposition party is also taking inspiration from the protests that took place across the border.

The government must look into how these grievances of the farmers can be addressed. Attempts at gaslighting the victims or shifting blame on them—as was witnessed in a recent National Assembly session last week—will not do the ruling government any favours and will only further inflame the situation.