By Mushtaq, Anum
Economic Review , Vol. 41, No. 12
The prices of edibles soar up to unaffordable level in the domestic market, as the supply of agricultural produces is brought to a halt due to inundation of cultivable land by the recent floods. The brutal behaviour of market forces like traders, stockists, profiteers and wholesalers, whose insatiable lust for making money out of every crisis, natural or man-made, further worsen the situation.
Today, even in the countries that are called champions of capitalist economy, the ratio of state intervention in the domestic markets is increasing day by day in order to protect the citizens from the market forces whose heart melt on wealth, no matters how money comes, legally or otherwise. In order to develop a strong system of monitoring and control, statutory/financial bodies devise legal framework and financial package of intervention for vulnerable sector at the time when any crisis in demand and supply emerge in market. However, this pro-consumer or producer mechanism is missing in Pakistan, which is responsible for economic backslashes, creating hell for ordinary man. Unaffordable price hike of the edibles, at present, is the ultimate outcome of this missing phenomenon, on the one hand and disregard of the agricultural sector, on the other.
In Indus valley civilization, agriculture was religion and tillage worship, as the farmers and peasants were nurtures of humanity. However, agronomy couldn't keep its sublime status intact after the rapid onslaught of industrialization in free market economy. Like many agrarian civilizations, agrarian society of Indus valley faced continual disregard in the newly created state of Pakistan, though the motherland, peasants and farmers continued to perform their divine obligation to nurture their co-inhabitants in the urban centres. For that reason, the urban centres failed to appreciate the significance of these unknown nurturers, who constantly maintain the supply of vegetables, fruits, foodgrains, meat, milk and butter at their doorsteps. All goes well as long as the agriculture sector operates smoothly.
However, crisis surfaced when the nurturers of humanity themselves faced devastation. And now our common man, already under merciless impact of meagre resources, faces price hike because of historic flood. So, the flood havoc, first playing with the farms and farmers, is badly affecting the consumers of agrarian edibles. Now, we should realize the sublime status of agriculture in our life. Prior to the floods, the rates of pulses, vegetables, foodgrains, livestock products, oil and fruits were comparatively at affordable level, which now register 100% increase even in presence of low quality of the product, for Consumer Price Index rose to 15.71% owing to floods. Whenever the agriculture sector suffers, the majority population of urban centres also gets affected, adversely, because the former is the suppliers and the later is the consumer. …