South Asia

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

short of gunnybags: The shortage of gunny bags at government wheat procurement centres in several districts of Pakistan has forced farmers to sell their produce to private buyers below the support price. The rates of wheat dropped from Rs 425 to Rs 380 in the open market after the government food department failed to provide gunny bags to farmers. Farmers took this desperate decision since they didn't have enough money to buy inputs for cotton. Farmers allege the procurement centres did not provide the gunny bags because they were in cahoots with private traders.

invasive seeds: Sri Lankan environmentalists have raised concerns over a consignment of invasive grass seeds imported from Australia by a local dairy. Quarantine officials say the grass is harmful to the environment. The country's Green Party complained to Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse after it learnt that some key agriculture officials were transferred for refusing to release the seeds, which were subsequently released by the agriculture ministry. The Pattipola Livestock Company Limited, owned by Sri Lanka's richest businessman Harry Jayawardene, had imported 14 bags of rye seed in early April but the Plant Quarantine Station of the agriculture department refused to release it when they had detected a harmful weed in the consignment. Subsequently the agriculture secretary intervened and released it despite objections from quarantine officials, sources said.

poultry concessions: In order to revive the poultry industry, the Pakistan government has agreed to grant it many concessions, which include interest-free loans totalling Rs 10 million for small poultry farmers. Import duties on several items including organic material for poultry feed preparation and medicines would also end. However, the Central Board of Revenue turned down the industry's demand for income tax exemption for five years, saying it was against the prevalent tax regime. The industry had suffered a loss of around Rs 9 billion because of bird flu.

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