LAHORE: Farmers Associates of Pakistan (FAP) has demanded of the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL) to start issuance of new agricultural loans to the farmers and honour its past commitments with regard to loaning for purchase of tractors.
Talking to Business Recorder here on Sunday Director and Chief Co-ordinator FAP, Dr. Mohammad Tariq Bucha said that the bank has not only stopped all the loans for the purchase of tractors but the farmers whose loans were previously approved and the "Supply Orders" released are facing problems in obtaining "Demand Drafts" for the same.
"When FAP contacted the tractor manufacturers, they said the tractors are ready in accordance with "Supply Orders" from ZTBL. However, due to the non issuance of "Demand Drafts" for these tractors, they cannot deliver tractors", he added.
Bucha said while the recent floods have shaken and devastated the nation and its economy besides the lives lost, the damage to property, the floodwater also washed away crops from the farmlands. Millions of acres of farms and agricultural lands belonging to thousands of farmers will not be able to produce a single grain of food this season. The farmers struck by this calamity now look towards the government and the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) for relief, assistance and rehabilitation.
He said adding to the tragedy is the recent policy of ZTBL, which has not only refused to issue new agricultural loans to the farmers but also backed out on its past commitments. FAP members and farmers are unable to understand this anti farmer policy of ZTBL whose duty is to provide credit to the farmers, as they would not be able to prepare their devastated lands for sowing of wheat. The farmers felt that there is an unfaithful hand depriving credit at this critical juncture to the farmers.
Due this policy it will be impossible to plough lakhs of acres of land thus rendering it uncultivated this year. This will result in severe food shortages for the next year besides unwarranted rise in the price of wheat and will force the government to import wheat at a higher cost in order to meet the food requirement.
FAP members passed on urgent resolution as per the spokesman of FAP Dr. Mohammad Tariq Bucha to press upon the government and ZTBL to ensure prompt release of previously granted loans besides immediately releasing fresh loans to the farmers. Their "Demand Drafts" should be issued immediately to ensure timely delivery of tractors to assist the farmers and the agricultural sector of the country to recover from this shock. The provision of new agricultural loans should be guaranteed so that in the coming days the rich soil brought in by the flood waters can be put to benefit and lakhs of affectees may start ploughing their land to sow wheat on time.
FAP head by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also appealed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani to intervene in this matter for the benefit and rights of the poor farmers so that Pakistan's economy and the agricultural sector can perform its appropriate role to rehabilitate the farmers after the havoc caused by recent floods.
However, when contacted by this scribe, senior managers of ZTBL told that the bank was facing cash crunch due to non-recoveries of its agricultural loans and the writing off loans in the flood hit vast areas of the country.