ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif gave directives on Thursday to launch a comprehensive plan to reform the agricultural sector on an emergency basis in order to increase agricultural production, reduce imports of agricultural products and improve the livelihood of the farming community in the country.
The PM chaired a meeting on reforming the agricultural sector. The prime minister asked all concerned ministries to prepare a reform plan on an emergency basis starting from the next crop season and submit it to him within two days.
The effects of climate change on the agriculture sector should be considered while preparing the reform plan, he directed.
The eight sub-committees formed by the PM to reform the agricultural sector, submitted their reports recommending short-, medium-, and long-term reform plans. Detailed briefings by the heads of sub-committees on wheat, cotton, edible oil, fertilisers, agricultural research, irrigation water, climate change and agricultural machinery.
The recommendations pertained to concrete measures for enhancing production of wheat, cotton, and edible oil during the next rabi and kharif seasons, besides provision of the latest farm implements to farmers at low cost, subsidy on urea and DAP, production targets with provision of exporting surplus crops, certified seeds, efficient use of irrigation water, and timely sanction of loans to farmers.
The PM said that the government would provide incentives to farmers on a priority basis. The government will ensure that farmers are provided with certified seeds and fertilisers at a reduced cost, he said, adding that the companies selling uncertified seeds and pesticides should be dealt with strictly.
PM Sharif said that the agricultural research institutions that produce quality seeds within the country would be encouraged and facilitated. The government will provide loans to farmers to acquire the latest agricultural machinery.
He stated that the government would soon take the initiative to build silos to store agricultural produce that is threatened by post-harvest climatic conditions.
He asked concerned ministries and departments to take steps to achieve and surpass the production target for the next wheat crop. The PM said it should also be ensured that the subsidy on agricultural inputs reaches farmers.
He emphasised that efforts would be made to introduce to the farming community the best practices of agriculture in the world. A comprehensive awareness programme would be launched in this regard, he said.
Federal ministers including Tariq Bashir Cheema, Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Miftah Ismail, special assistants Ahad Cheema and Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan and high-ranking officials attended the meeting. The agriculture secretaries of all the provinces participated in the meeting through video link.
‘Apples for oranges’ barter deal
Meanwhile, Minister for National Food Security and Research Tariq Bashir Cheema on Thursday said that Pakistan and Iran will soon barter trade, under which Pakistan will buy apples from Iran by bartering oranges.
During a meeting with Iranian Deputy Minister for Agriculture Abbas Askarzada in Islamabad, Mr Cheema said that the two countries will soon exchange a list of items which could be traded on a barter basis.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2022