FAISALABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Food Security and Agriculture Jamshed Iqbal Cheema has said that most of the commodities commonly imported would be available in Pakistan in abundance within a couple of years as the government was focusing on enhancing their domestic production.
Addressing a press conference at the Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (Aari) here on Saturday, he said the government had devised a policy to enhance production of fruits and vegetables up to 30 per cent and wheat up to 80pc.
He said Rs62 billion had been allocated this year to make Pakistan a net food exporting country and this amount would be increased next, while the previous government had allocated Rs1.6bn for this purpose.
Mr Cheema said steps were also being taken for speedy growth of the livestock sector and in this connection, best breeds of animals and birds were being promoted. He said the government had allocated Rs10bn for research work on improvement of breeds.
Cheema says Rs62bn allocated to make Pakistan food exporting country
He said a restructuring plan had been launched to improve the performance of government organisations and institutions.
He rejected rumours about privatisation of the institutes and said the government had no intention to render highly educated researchers and scientists jobless. However, their salaries were linked with the performance system and the best performers would get more incentives, he added.
The special assistant said the research fund was being regulated so that the researchers could get necessary funding without running from pillar to post.
He said the government was trying its best to enhance agriculture yield by strengthening linkages between government, researchers and farmers. The scientists and researchers must mould themselves in accordance with the new system so that Pakistan could regain its repute as an agricultural country, he added.
Mr Cheema said the government might hire the services of near retirement scientists and agriculture experts on the basis of their performance. He urged scientists to play a productive role and develop new technologies and products to strengthen the national economy.
He said the commercialisation of innovations could bring repute along with financial benefits for the researchers and agriculture scientists.
The special assistant said the government strictly believed in merit and best salary packages would be offered to the right person for the right job. The promotion, facilities and perks would also be linked with the performance, he added.
He said he was visiting Faisalabad along with Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Husain to have detailed discussions and seek recommendations from the officials of Aari, National Institute for Agriculture and Biology, Postgraduate Agriculture Research Station, National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering and other departments regarding the transformation.
He said the media should focus on positivity instead of presenting negative view of the government policies. The performance and income of the growers had increased substantially as a result of institutional reforms, he added.
Mr Cheema said that an average increase of 90pc was recorded in the prices of food and energy while prices of wheat and rice witnessed 34pc increase, maize 51pc, edible oil 60-70pc, poultry 54pc, beef 10pc, fertilisers 34-154pc, Urea 95pc, PSD 120pc and DPA 122pc.
He blamed coronavirus for inflation and said Pakistan was the third country after Hong Kong and New Zeeland which effectively controlled the pandemic.
He said that during Covid-19 only Pakistan, China, Vietnam and Egypt recorded growth, while economy of 188 countries went into negative from -3 to -28.
He said the government intended to develop the food processing industry as the second largest sector after textile.
Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2021