Rs50bn subsidy on farm inputs on the cards, says Fakhar

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Fakhar Imam says the country is facing the challenge of locust attacks and efforts are under way to counter it. — DawnNewsTV/File
Fakhar Imam says the country is facing the challenge of locust attacks and efforts are under way to counter it. — DawnNewsTV/File

MULTAN: Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam has said the government is going to announce a Rs50 billion relief package for farmers in terms of subsidy on various agriculture inputs.

Talking to the media here on Wednesday, after he distributed Eid gifts among the children of Child Protection and Welfare Bureau, the minister said the government was making all-out efforts to facilitate the farming community.

He said the subsidy would be provided to the farmers on pesticides, fertilizers and other agriculture inputs through provincial governments.

Mr Imam said the country was facing the challenge of locust attack and the efforts were under way to counter it.

“Locusts that can travel as far as 170km a day entered Pakistan after 27 years. It entered in our region in March 2019. It continued breeding in Balochistan from where it is spreading and entering our fertile areas,” he said.

He said as Pakistan lacked experts, China sent a 10-member team of experts to help us control locusts. Prime Minister Imran Khan had declared national emergency in view of locusts attack in January, he added.

“Measures are being taken under National Action Plan to control the attack of locusts which arrived in our country from East Africa through Middle East. The teams of agriculture department and Pakistan Army are busy in controlling locusts, while deputy commissioners of various districts are also participating in the [anti-locust] campaign,” he said.

He said the farmers whose crops had been damaged by locusts would be compensated financially for their losses.

“According to a report of the Food and Agriculture Organization another wave of locust will attack Pakistan in June via Muscat”, he said.

Explaining the anti-locust strategy of the government, the minister said the swarms would be intercepted in the deserted areas of the country through spray of pesticides from planes.

He said the plant protection department used to have a fleet of 20 planes, but now it was left with only one aircraft as the other had recently crashed. However, he said, five new planes would be purchased for the purpose.

He said last year 4.2 million metric ton wheat was procured while the target for this year had been doubled to avoid any crisis in the country.

“So far, Sindh [has] completed 83 percent of its [wheat procurement] target, while Pasco has procured 1.2 metric ton out of 1.8 metric ton. The government fixed the wheat support price at Rs1400 per 40 kilo. Wheat prices at international level have been increased and now we are determined to stop the smuggling of wheat,” he said.

He said even the industrial countries were now realising the importance of agriculture because of coronavirus pandemic.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2020