Ambitious agri plan seeks to increase rabi, kharif yields

Published February 13, 2021
The Agri­­­culture Trans­formation Plan 2021, shared by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) on Friday with Dawn, seeks to revolutionalise the agri-input regime to substantially increase production of major rabi and kharif crops. — File photo
The Agri­­­culture Trans­formation Plan 2021, shared by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) on Friday with Dawn, seeks to revolutionalise the agri-input regime to substantially increase production of major rabi and kharif crops. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Agri­­­culture Trans­formation Plan 2021, shared by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) on Friday with Dawn, seeks to revolutionalise the agri-input regime to substantially increase production of major rabi and kharif crops, with growth in wheat yield by 41 per cent, rice 40pc, cotton 65pc, maize 40pc, sugar 22pc, and other crops 30pc.

Under the first generation interventions of the plan, which was submitted to Prime Minister Imran Khan early this week, reforms will be brought in the seed sector, digitalizing the subsidy mechanism, revolutionizing the farm mechanization, improving water efficiency, revamping extension services, simplifying access of credit by farmers, expanding post-harvest storage and restructuring research institutions.

Explaining the plan, Secretary MNFSR Ghufran Memon said the timeline for each intervention has been set; mostly to be completed by December 2021. To start with, the ‘Plant Breeder’s Rights Registry has been made functional, he added.

The second generation interventions seek to establish an agriculture innovation and development authority for horizontal expansion, value chain development, clusters of fruits and vegetable, perishable produce, crop zoning, land consolidation, organic farming, adaptation and self-discovery, sub-montane agriculture and international cooperation.

An important feature of the plan is the revival of the cotton crop which continues to be declining. An economic package for cotton is expected to be announced during the next few days. The government has decided to announce a subsidy of Rs1,200 per acre on seed to cover 4 million acres during the coming kharif season.

A summary has been sent to the Economic Coordination Committee to transfer subsidy funds to provinces on the basis of cultivated area and disbursement to farmers as per their existing mechanisms. There will be 70pc coverage for white fly menace.

Another important intervention will be in the seed sector, and the ministry will submit amendments in the Seed Business Regulations Rules, 2016 to the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative cases by mid-March. At the same time, PC-1 for consumer-sourcing seed authenticity will be submitted to the Planning Commission by the end of April.

Amendments in Seed Registration Rules of 1987 will be made next month to facilitate private sector. Fast-track varietal approval system for unavailable technology will be introduced through amendments in the Seed Business Regulations Rules, 2016, and this process will begin in April.

A ‘Kissan Card’ is being designed for the provision of seed, pesticides, fertiliser and farm machinery and implements to farmers. In Punjab, the card mechanism will be notified on March 30, and by April 15 it will be issued to all registered farmers in the province.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2021

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