FAISALABAD: The decision to privatize wheat, sugarcane, rice, and maize departments of the Ayub Agricultural Research Institute has stirred unrest among the scientists and employees. Reports say the decision was taken due to allegations of delay in research and uncontrolled management structure. There has been a wave of uneasiness and concern among agricultural scientists and they have declared privatization the enemy of agriculture and farmers. The government is handing over wheat, sugarcane, rice, and maize departments of the Ayub Agricultural Research Institute to the private sector from June 1 due to various reasons, including slow research work, the extensive infrastructure of research institutes, and weak work. Scientists, however, oppose the decision. About the disadvantages of privatization of these sectors, soil scientist Sadia Sultana said that when Pakistan was created, its total area was 796,096 square kilometers and food was provided to the poor population. She said that 100-year-old plasma has been preserved in Ayub Research and whenever a disease attacks a new seed, the plasma is used to increase the strength against new seed diseases And now with privatization, that 100-year-old plasma will go to private companies, which is why the people of Pakistan will be at the mercy of private companies and the same plasma will be smuggled abroad. Dr Khansa Khakwani, an agricultural scientist in the cotton sector, said that the catastrophe of any country occurs when there is a food crisis and Ayub Research guarantees food security. The privatization of its four major sectors would be tantamount to creating a food crisis in the country. She said that privatization would affect both farmers and agriculture, farmers would have to buy expensive seeds and the government’s decision on privatization would push farmers into inflation. “We, agricultural scientists, are stakeholders in the privatization process and unfortunately, we have not been heard on this issue,” she said, adding the prime minister of Pakistan to convene a delegation of Ayub Research scientists and listen to them in this regard. Hira Shair, an agricultural scientist affiliated with the wheat department, said that the full production of wheat in the current season and the government was taking credit for it is due to the agricultural scientists of Ayub Research. She said that privatization is needed where there are failures while Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of wheat in the world and scientists are producing new seeds every year. Therefore, the privatization of three other major sectors of the government, including wheat, is beyond comprehension. This is a matter of survival of the nation and the country and they will not allow this to happen. Dr Azizur Rehman, an agricultural scientist with the wheat department, said that it took four generations of hard work to produce modern varieties and achieve the best production. Ayub Research brought about a green revolution in the country. Akhlaq Mudassir, an agricultural scientist attached with the sugarcane department, said that two sugar mills were installed in Pakistan in 1947 and now there are 90. The credit for sugarcane production as per the requirement of all sugar mills goes to Ayub Agricultural Research Institute. It is not clear which ministers and advisers advised the government to privatize these sectors. Instead of attacking institutions, the government should set up new institutions and meet the needs of scientists so that new inventions can be made with further improvement in the field of research. APCA Vice President Ayub Research Akbar Butt said that there has been a shortage of employees in all sectors for the last several years. The government has started closing down institutions instead of hiring employees. Agricultural scientists met in the library hall of Ayub Research to plan for the future and plan to stop privatization. The agricultural scientists agreed that the government should listen to their position at the delegation-level. Otherwise, all legal avenues, including protests, will be followed.