ISLAMABAD: The government is planning to launch various projects in five key agriculture sectors — water, crops, markets, fisheries and livestock — amounting to Rs290 billion in five years, Secretary National Food Security and Research, Muhammad Hashim Popalzai said on Tuesday.

An important component of the projects to be launched in July is to increase yield of major crops — sugarcane, rice and wheat — and boost adoption of oilseeds.

The National Agriculture Emergency Programme aims to conserve and increase productivity of water; dramatically increase yields of major crops and boost adoption of oilseeds; harness untapped potential of fisheries; livestock initiatives for small and medium farmers; transform agriculture product markets; and increase access to finance.

Mr Popalzai said performance of the agriculture sector declined by 60pc in terms of budgeting and priority in development budget since devolution.

Federal and provincial allocations used to be around Rs40bn but post-devolution these have been reduced to Rs20-22bn, the secretary said.

During the fiscal year ending June 30 this year, the allocation is expected to remain at Rs20bn, he said, adding, “This amount should have been between Rs60-70bn if translated in dollar term.”

Though agricultural development and research has stagnated over the past several years, the decline in agriculture can be reversed in the short term, and to sustain agriculture growth, work on the long term strategy could be started without any delay, he stressed.

For the first time since devolution, the federal government’s share in eighteen projects of five key sectors of agriculture during the next five years will be Rs92.5bn.

The share of federal government in development of water sector will be Rs71bn; crops Rs1.65bn; fisheries Rs3.51bn; and livestock Rs1.32bn. The development of markets would be fully funded by Punjab since these would be developed in the province.

In water sector, the investment will be Rs218.5bn; in crops Rs44.82bn; development of markets Rs11.50bn, fisheries Rs Rs9.28bn, and livestock Rs5.60bn.

*Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2019*

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