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ISLAMABAD, May 6: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday urged the Zarai Taraqiati Bank (ZTBL) to explore possible support from international donors and financial institutions to augment its drive for uplift of agriculture sector in the country.

Inaugurating the golden jubilee celebrations of the ZTBL, the president said that countries in our neighborhood have considerably enhanced allocation for agriculture credit and the ZTBL should also follow the same path. Possibilities be explored from Islamic Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank, he said.

“There is also a need to collaborate with multinational companies for establishing joint ventures in Pakistan in agriculture sector.”

The president said that there was also a need to collaborate with multinational companies for establishing joint ventures in the agriculture sector.

He urged the Finance and Economic Affairs Division to look into the need for giving mandate and autonomy to the ZTBL to interact and negotiate with these organizations.

“I firmly believe that given the right set of policies and out of box solutions, Pakistan will not only feed itself but will become a major exporter amongst Saarc countries,” said the president in a prepared statement released to media.

Pointing towards challenges faced by the agriculture sector, he said population growth, global warming and water scarcity were the three major challenges in the way of achieving food security.

He said that the government had already embarked upon a comprehensive plan to address the economic challenges and in keeping with its manifesto and promises to the people, the Pakistan People's Party, since taking over the charge of the government, has supported the agriculture sector by increasing the support price of major crops.

The president said that the government gives top priority to development of agriculture, which is a major sector of the economy and playing an important role in national development.

The president congratulated the bank for its golden jubilee and said that the progress made by the bank during the last half a century is because of the dedication and commitment of its employees.

He said during the last three years, the bank has witnessed the highest ever disbursements, consistent profits and marked reduction in the non-performing loans.

The president also expressed satisfaction that for the first time in the history of the bank, Rs3 billion have been contributed to the exchequer and congratulated Zaka Ashraf and his team over this performance.

This adds another feather to the achievement of the PPP government, he said.

Meeting financial needs and use of appropriate technology are critical for development of agriculture in the country, the president said and added it is a matter of satisfaction that ZTBL has also introduced latest agricultural technologies to the farming community.

The president said that progressive farmers in Pakistan have achieved 100 mounds per acre yield in cotton and wheat and 1500 mounds of sugarcane yield per acre.