LAHORE: The Prime Minister’s Agriculture Emergency Programme worth Rs300 billion is being implemented to curtail production cost of farmers, Provincial Agriculture Minister Hussain Jehanian Gardezi told a press conference here on Wednesday.

Special Adviser to the CM on Information Dr Firdous Awan was also present.

Under the programme, 10,000 watercourses are being lined at a cost of Rs28.59 billion, he said, adding 1,200 laser land levelers have been provided to the cultivators on subsidized rates to improve farm water management.

He stated that approximately 400,000 bags of approved seed of wheat, weedicide as well as the latest farm machinery are being provided to the farmers at a cost of Rs12.54 billion.

Under the scheme, sales tax rate on harvesting machinery and service providers is being brought to two per cent from 16 per cent, he said. The department has approved 102 seeds of various crops as the DNA, fingerprinting and variety registration have been made mandatory to ensure purity of seed, the minister said.

A crop insurance facility (Takaful) is being provided to the cultivators of 27 districts under which farm produce of 539,439 farmers against climate change, natural calamities and locust has been insured as the department paid Rs3 billion as premium to the insurance companies, he claimed.

The minister claimed that 0.834 million farmers benefited from the e-voucher smart subsidy scheme on seeds and fertilizers as the government distributed a sum of Rs4.86 billion among them.

Mr Gardezi said the present government has increased the e-credit scheme limit from Rs25,000 to Rs30,000 per acre for Rabi crop and from Rs40,000 to Rs50,000 per acre for the Kharif crop as a sum of Rs61 billion has been distributed as interest-free loan so far.

He maintained that during the last two years more than 78,000 barren land was turned into fertile land which increased the income of the cultivators by approximately Rs2.5 billion.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2021

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