ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi examine a tractor during their visit to various stalls at the inaugural ceremony of the Green Pakistan Initiative, on Monday.—Courtesy PID
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi examine a tractor during their visit to various stalls at the inaugural ceremony of the Green Pakistan Initiative, on Monday.—Courtesy PID

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan could attract an investment of $40 billion to $50bn in the years ahead and could grow its food exports to Gulf states within two years, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Monday.

Addressing a seminar on agriculture and food security, he termed agriculture the backbone of the country, saying that farmers worked hard to provide food to millions of people.

He said that the Green Pakistan Initiative would eventually bring a second agricultural revolution, creating four million jobs in the country.

“It is the demand of our national security that the country’s food security and economic security should be strengthened,” he said.

Premier concerned over adulterated drugs given to farmers, warns of strict action

He said the farmers had a right to avail incentives for the agriculture sector and it was the responsibility of the government to provide them all possible assistance for overall development and progress.

The prime minister said growth in the agriculture sector would bring Pakistan at a par with developed countries.

He said hard work was imperative to ensure the country’s progress, adding that the Green Revolution in the 1960s was due to the introduction of new varieties of seeds, the building of dams and canals, and modern agriculture practices.

He said farmers should get more profits than the cost of production of their crops, including wheat. The government did increase the support price of wheat which led to record production of the commodity, he added.

He was hopeful that due to the incentives given by the government, cotton production would also rise, adding that it was the responsibility of the government to provide standard seeds, fertilisers, and pesticides to farmers and equip them with the latest technology.

Mr Sharif appreciated the new agriculture initiative for giving real-time information about any pest attacks.

He expressed concern over adulterated drugs given to farmers and warned of strict action against the culprits.

He lauded the vision of Army Chief Syed Asim Munir for development of the agriculture sector in the country.

“We have to implement the vision for agriculture through collaboration among federal and provincial governments, agriculture departments, and research institutes,” he said.

He said the government was ready to fund agriculture research centres, adding that there had been no worthwhile work due to a culture of favouritism.

Mr Sharif said state-owned enterprises were losing Rs600bn annually. Pakistan imported palm oil worth $4.5bn which was a burden on the economy, he noted.

There was a time when Pakistan was producing more cotton than its neighbouring country, but then it lost track and the production of staple crops declined, he said.

Pakistan could not afford more foreign loans, but was forced to save its economy from default by getting loans from friendly countries, he added.

The PM said Gulf countries were ready to invest in the agriculture sector and bring modern machinery to boost crop production in the country.

Pakistan needed political stability to attract investment as in an unstable environment, investors shied away, he added.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2023

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