Abdul Sattar, Abdul Qayyum and Khadim Afridi
Business at the vegetable markets of the provincial capital is still reeling under the impact of the pandemic.
Traders at these markets said that even after the reopening of the trade activities, the business has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Rehmat Shah, a pea seller said that before pandemic, he used to sell four maunds of peas daily. Mr Shah said that the pandemic send their sales tumbling. “We came to a point where we were not able to even pay the school fees of kids and utility bills,” he said.
However, Mr Shah said despite the recovery, impact of the pandemic was still there.
He said that they were raising three families by doing business on a single pushcart. “Now three of us brothers are working in the market but finding it difficult to pay the bills,” he said.
Mr Shah demanded the government to end inflation provide relief to them.
Hamad, who sells tomatoes in the same market said, that the pandemic has affected all businesses. “This in turn has affected the economic standing of all people, forcing to cut back their food purchases,” he said. Mr Hamad said that this has directly impacted their businesses.
On the other hand, pandemic besides impacting the businesses has also impacted the livelihood of farmers.
Farmers are also feeling the heat
Rizwanullah, president Kisan Board, an organization working on farmers’ rights in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said that when the government did not paid any attention to farmers when it issued SOPs for Covid-19.
Besides, he said that government failed to take any steps for the welfare of the farmers during pandemic and at the same time agriculture department also did not do anything to spread awareness among them.
He said that the government made announcement to helping the business and other sectors; however, the farmers have not received any help thus far.
Mr Rizwanullah said that cash crops including strawberries, wheat, sugarcane and vegetables were grown in Swat, Peshawar, Mardan and Charsadda districts and were also exported to Gulf countries. However, he said that due to lockdowns the crops were wasted as their no storage facility were available, causing losses to them.
Mr Rizwanullah said that in addition to this over 2000 farmers have died due to pandemic; however, they received no compensation.
Government’s views regarding the woes of farmers
Dr Abdul Nasir Malik, director planning at the agriculture extension department, said that provincial government has setup farm service center at every district level.
He said that these centers provided machinery and other facilities to the farmers.
Dr Nasir claimed farming was not affected due to the pandemic as agriculture department tried to help them with subsidized seed, Kisan Card and insecticides.
Besides, he said that the action was taken against those overcharging farmers for urea.
In addition to this, under the Prime Minister Emergency Programme, government has planned cultivation of oilseeds, sugarcane, rice and wheat. “Both the federal and provincial government would contribute 40 and 60 per cents of the costs respectively,” he said.
Mr Nasir said that government has also setup sasta bazaars, where they farmers can sell their produce without paying commission to middlemen.
Besides, he added that the department observes field days in all districts, wherein farmers are given information about seeds and when to cultivate them to increase the yield.