ISLAMABAD, Oct 5: Pakistan has surplus wheat stocks and one million tons can be exported, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) informed the Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, here on Friday.

During a briefing to the premier at the Prime Minister’s House, the ministry officials said that the county had wheat stocks of more than 8.41 million tons and there were plans to export one million tons from these stocks.

The Prime Minister expressed concern over low per acre yield despite abundant natural resources and called for more research in the agriculture sector.

“No country can make progress without research and we need to intensify research on crops, like wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane and pulses, so that their yield could be increased,” he said, adding, “it is time to make way for reducing the post-harvest loss through use of appropriate technology.”

He also directed the ministry to work on a plan to increase edible oil production so that the country can save foreign exchange on its imports.

The prime minister was informed by Mir Israr Ullah Khan Zehri, Minister for National Food Security, that rice production this year is expected at 6.16 million tons which shows an improvement of 28 per cent over last year.

Sugarcane production is estimated at 59.5 million tons as compared to 55.3 million tons last year and cotton production is expected to be around 13.6 million bales.

The prime minister said that the Ministry of National Food Security and Research has been created to coordinate with provinces and international organisations to achieve synergy needed to ensure food security and growth in the agriculture sector.

“It is essential that the ministry presents a comprehensive national food security policy for cabinet approval,” the PM said.

He said that there should be an effective mechanism to educate farmers and the industry on any development made in agriculture research so that the agriculture sector can benefit from it.

The meeting was attended by Amin Fahim, Commerce Minister, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Finance Minister, Moazzam Ali Khan Jatoi, Minister of State for National Food Security and Research and other senior officials.

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