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EAC body seeks use of composting technology

May 26, 2012

ISLAMABAD, May 26: Economic Advisory Council’s sub-committee on agriculture has proposed introduction of composting technology to boost efficiency of fertilizer use by 25 per cent.

It would help save Rs78 billion at the current market prices of chemical fertilizer per annum, said the subcommittee, headed by Hasan Ali Chaniho, a former Sindh minister for agriculture.

The committee suggested that measures be taken in the coming fiscal budget to popularise the composting technology and allow setting up of plants to mix chemical fertilizer with compost at village level.

The sub-committee which submitted its report to the EAC on Friday, suggested that the government should grant a 10-year tax holiday for setting up of plants based on composting technology, suggesting the formula that 20 per cent capital be invested by farmers and 80 per cent by the Zarai Taraqiati Bank (ZTBL) as soft loan.

Speaking to Dawn, Mr Chaniho said that there was a big scope for compost technology as in cities, municipal waste and at village level crop residual including leaves and sticks of sugarcane, wheat, rice, cotton and banana are available in abundance which can easily be composted.

The introduction of the technology would save Rs20 billion spent on chemical fertilizers, he added.

The sub-committee suggested that the government should provide quality seeds to farmers through foreign companies as the former agriculture minister of former West Pakistan Malik Khuda Baksh Bucha had introduced the ‘Maxi-Pak’ for wheat which led the country to self-sufficient in wheat.

He differentiated productivity of crops through quality seeds by giving a comparison between India and Pakistan.

In terms of wheat, India is getting 79 mounds per acre of wheat against 25 mounds per acre by Pakistan.

Similarly, in sugar, India was getting 1200 mounds per acre as against 450 mound per acre by Pakistan; and 45 mounds of cotton per acre in India in comparison with 22 mounds per acre in Pakistan.

The sub-committee suggested that the government in the new budget should reduce duties on small tractors, and give incentives to local manufacturers of agricultural machinery.

Regulations must be introduced for ensuring agricultural credit from private banks.

On the pattern of current and saving accounts, agricultural development accounts be introduced for small farmers having land holdings less than 50 acres and account turn-over must be from Rs2.5 million to Rs10 million per year.

It was suggested that the government should revitalize and strengthen agricultural price commission and make operational the commodity exchange.

Implementation of agriculture support price policies be made transparent and corruption-free.

The committee pointed out that the share of value-addition in agriculture is only 12 per cent whereas only 3 to 4 per cent fruits and vegetables are processed which indicates the wide scope of processing, value-addition and export.

It recommended to the government should remove GST on agricultural inputs, and grant soft loans to the industry for value-addition.

The size of agricultural value-added industry, like food-grading, pulping of fruits, storage capabilities and commodity exchanges, should be also increased.The sub-committee proposed establishment of national and international brands of fruits and vegetables. It proposed that the ministry of commerce should take all stakeholders on board for devising a strategy to launch the brands.

Support be provided for listing of fruits and vegetable companies on the stock exchange.

Fruit growers, processors, wholesale traders and foreign chambers be engaged for enhancing export potential of Pakistan’s fruits and vegetables, the sub-committee suggests.

To cope with the scarcity of water for agriculture, the sub-committee proposed introduction of solar technology in riverine areas where there is no canal irrigation.

As a pilot project, 5000 such tube wells be installed to bring 25 to 40 acres under cultivation without electricity.