The federal government on Tuesday unveiled a Rs 309 billion Agriculture Emergency Programme to boost local production, reduce dependence on imports, improve the lives of poor farmers and lead the country towards sustainable development.
The agricultural revolution program was announced at a joint press conference by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen.
Speaking on the occasion, Jahangir Tareen said that Pakistan had to import food products despite being an agricultural country, having water, land, environment and other prerequisites. “Last year, $4 billion agriculture products were imported,” he added. He said that the previous governments had failed to promote the agriculture sector of the country.
Giving details about the program, he said that out of the total Rs 309 billion package, the federal government would provide Rs 84 billion while the remaining amount of Rs 225 would be shared by the provincial governments.
Addressing the press conference, Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan also lauded the efforts of Jahangir Khan Tareen in agriculture development of the country.
The provincial agriculture ministers of Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were also present on the occasion. The minister said that Jahangir Khan Tareen had made a lot of efforts to formulate agriculture emergency program, which was focused on increased productivity of major crops including wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, and oilseed.
He said that Tareen had taken all the provinces on board and held several meetings with them and formed working groups in order to finalize the program.
Meanwhile, Tareen said that PC-1 of Agricultural revolution Programme had been finalized and would be presented in the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for approval.
He said overall allocations for the agriculture sector had been enhanced as the federal government had increased it from Rs 1 billion in its Annual Development Plan last year to Rs 12 billion and same was followed in Punjab and other provinces. He said that the spending would be taken up to record level of Rs 70 billion in the next four years.
He said that the program was a revolutionary step of the government and besides promoting the agriculture sector it would also benefit the local farmers as the special efforts would be made to enhance the per acre yield of all major crops.
Special measures will be introduced to enhance per acre yield of wheat from 35-40 maunds, rice by 10-20 maunds, sugarcane by 650-800 maunds, adding that incentives were announced for the cultivation of oilseeds like canola and sunflower.
In order to make agriculture produces more competitive, he said that special measures would be introduced for energy, water conservation, and pest management to reduce the cost of production.
He said that Rs 220 billion would be spent on the construction of small dams and watercourse development, adding that 70,000 water courses would be developed.
He said that about 50% of water courses would be developed which would help to save about 9 million acre-feet water annually and this program would be completed within the next four years.
The agricultural revolution in Sindh………..
Jahangir Tareen said that unfortunately, the Sindh government had not so far participated in the program, adding that the federal government had requested them to participate in the program by setting aside all the political differences for the larger interests of farmers and development of agriculture sector of the country.
Despite this, the federal government had allocated an amount of Rs 15-18 billion in its PSDP 2019-20 for Sindh in order to promote its agriculture and livestock sectors as well as other areas. He said that under the agricultural revolution, special measures would be taken to exploit the fisheries sector.
Tareen said that government was also initiating three programs in the livestock sector, adding that subsidy would be provided to farmers for calving farming that would boost meat exports from the country.