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LAHORE: The Punjab government has proposed an allocation of around Rs140.5 billion for agriculture, irrigation, livestock, food and other allied departments in the annual budget for 2017-18 fiscal.

The government also claims to have achieved 8pc growth in the crop sector during the ongoing fiscal year.

“The Rs100 billion Kissan Package, which was launched in the ongoing fiscal year, has brought a revolution, as it gave loans to 106,000 farmers to date, increasing agriculture crop growth rate to 8pc that further led to converting 0.2pc negative agriculture GDP to positive 3.46pc GDP growth,” Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said in her budget speech in the Punjab Assembly on Friday.

She said the agriculture budget included Rs15 billion for Kissan Package.

According to the budget document, Rs20 billion had been allocated to development of the agriculture sector during the ongoing fiscal year 2016-17. This included Rs10 billion for the schemes identified under the Chief Minister’s Kissan Package.

“For FY 2017-18, it has been planned to execute 34 ongoing and 25 new schemes for which Rs21 billion is being provided. This also includes Rs10 billion for the Kissan Package and Rs2 billion for the establishment of Punjab Agriculture, Food & Drug Agency science enclave,” the budget document stated.

Govt claims 8pc crop growth

The other major initiatives the government plans to start in 2017-18 included Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project (assisted by the World Bank), optimising watercourse conveyance efficiency through enhancing lining length and provision of laser land levelers to farmers/service providers on subsidised costs.

The document mentions that the government will launch several irrigation-related projects, including Jalalpur Irrigation Project, Kass-Umar Khan Canal System in Tehsil Eisakhel (Mianwali), increasing capacity of the Mailsi Siphon, Greater Thal Canal Project Phase-2 (Chobara Branch) and Flood Protection Scheme at Nullah Dek.

The irrigation sector’s total outlay for the year 2017-18 has been estimated at Rs41 billion. This allocation shows no increase from ADP 2016-17 and constitutes about 6.83pc of the core ADP 2017-18 budget under the Medium Term Development Framework (MTDF) 2017-20.

“About 173 schemes included in the MTDF 2017-18 -- out of which 96 are ongoing and 77 new -- have been targeted to be executed during 2017-18 with an allocation of Rs28.3 billion for ongoing and Rs12.731 billion for new schemes. Around 45 of the ongoing and 24 new schemes will be completed during 2017-18,” according to the document.

The document indicates an allocation of Rs500 million to execute four ongoing and four new schemes in FY 2017-18. These schemes include construction of concrete silos of 30,000 metric tonne capacity in Bahawalpur and mobile food sampling and inspection infrastructure for strengthening anti-adulteration campaign in Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi and establishment of Strategic Planning Unit in the food department.

The government has also proposed Rs2.70 billion for the Punjab Food Authority for accomplishment of its expansion plan in all districts of Punjab.

In the livestock sector, the government has proposed to execute 25 ongoing and 25 new schemes under the ADP for which Rs9.5 billion has been allocated for the fiscal year 2017-18.

“The proposed ADP includes a project to promote export surplus and to create market pull, improve supply chain, production, processing, value addition and certification to link with the international markets,” the budget document states.

Major initiatives to be undertaken during 2017-18 include improving productivity and fertility of small and large ruminants through encouragement of bull keeping for natural mating, enhancing livestock production and productivity through strategic de-worming and vaccination and establishment of University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Bahawalpur.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2017