PUNJAB will be focusing on the food and nutritional security of the people in 2022 as the department’s development budget has been increased from Rs15 billion in 2020-21 to Rs31bn for 2021-22 for this purpose, says Agriculture Minister Syed Hussain Jahania Gardezi.

For food security, the per acre yield of wheat will be increased by two maunds, despite fertiliser and water shortage challenges, through enhanced acreage and better farming techniques as over 20,000 agriculture students have been engaged to guide the farmers, he says. Last year per acre grain yield had improved by one and a half maunds.

As far as nutritional security is concerned, soybean cultivation will be re-introduced, he says without elaborating the incentives to be employed to attract the growers towards the crop that had been first introduced in the 1960s.

Encouraged by the 71 per cent better moong pulse yield through the provision of quality seeds and other incentives, the province will also target the gram crop to replicate the moong model next year, says the minister. “We’ll even experiment with artificial rain in the gram producing region, where completion of Jalalpur Pirwala canal will also bring 164,000 more acres of land under cultivation.”

The minister says that cotton output in the province increased by around 19pc notwithstanding the 21pc cut in its acreage and efforts will be made to capitalise this strength of the white lint in the next year.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 3rd, 2022

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