Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah performed the computerized balloting for providing 6,000 tractors to farmers of the province on subsidized rates, at an impressive ceremony held at the CM House on Wednesday.
Speaking on the occasion, he said that agriculture constitutes the backbone of the province’s economy and the government was doing a lot for the progress and development of agriculture sector aimed at maximizing the yield per acre for various crops. “It is our policy to provide maximum facilities to the growers so as to equip them with latest trends and technologies in order to achieve highest production of crops,” he added.
Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that owing to concerted efforts the yield per acre has increased in the province by up to 29 per cent, as more than 65 per cent population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture. He said that three years ago, Sindh had to import wheat but at present the province was self sufficient in edible items and also exporting some food items. Regarding increase in prices of inputs like fertilizer, seed, etc, the chief minister said that it was a result of price increase in diesel and transportation coupled with the shortage of gas and electricity.
He stressed upon the investors, agriculturists and growers to encourage agro-based industries in the province, which was very essential for the progress of agriculture sector. Many items depend on agriculture and the people, particularly the growers, have to pay taxes on them, he said, adding: “There had been protests over the shortages of water in various parts of the province but in the year 2010-11 Sindh received excessive water in the form of heavy rains which made the people pray to Allah Almighty that they did not want any more water”. He said that talks were being held at secretary level with the federal government regarding the share of water.
Regarding the shortage of Bardana (jute bags), the chief minister said that due to late sowing in lower Sindh, the harvesting process also suffered delay but added that in the wake of expected heavy rains the harvesting process must be completed soon. Shah said that while keeping in view the recommended price by the federal government, the Sindh government has increased the price of wheat up to Rs 1,050 per 40 kg, adding that after the decision of the Sindh government, other provinces had also increased the price of wheat per 40 kg.
He further said that with regard to prices of fertilizer, seed and other items, the suggestions and views of Sindh Chamber of Agriculture would be considered, adding: “We will maximize procurement of wheat, for which Food and Agriculture departments have been looking after the interests of growers”.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Aijaz Ali Khan highlighted the perspective of computerized balloting for providing assistance to farmers to purchase 6000-wheel type tractors.
He said that the scheme launched under the aegis of Agriculture Department has the motto of “Prosperous Sindh – Prosperous and Happy Hari”. He said that it was the third balloting and previously 8,736 tractors were distributed on subsidized rates through such process.
He said that under the third phase, 6,000 tractors were being given to growers for which the department had received 18,506 applications.
He said that an amount of Rs 1,600 million has been provided for the purpose, from which the growers would be provided a subsidy of Rs 2 lac on small tractors and Rs 3 lac on big tractors.
Aijaz Ali Khan said that Rs 650 million have been spent on other schemes aimed at improving the agriculture sector, adding that the Agriculture Department was providing knowledge on mobile telephones to the applicants who have deposited Rs 25,000 in Habib Bank branches.
The successful growers have to deposit full amount of tractors (with subsidy) within 15 days latest by May 10, he added.
President Sindh Chamber of Agriculture Dr. Nadeem Qamar and Abdul Majeed Nizamani also addressed the ceremony and highlighted the problems confronting the agriculture sector. Provincial ministers Syed Ali Nawaz Shah, Syed Murad Ali Shah, Shazia Atta Marri, Jam Madad Ali, MPAs Anwar Mahar, Dr. Abdul Sattar Rajpar and Imran Leghari, Chairman Board of Investment Zubair Motiwala, Chief Secretary Sindh Raja Muhammad Abbas, provincial secretaries and agriculturists were also present on the occasion.