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Saturday June 22, 2024

Time to promote culture of high-rises: minister

By Our Correspondent
May 28, 2024
Punjab Agriculture Minister Syed Ashiq Hussain Kirmani gestures during a meeting on May 23, 2024. — Facebook/Syed Ashiq Hussain Kirmani
Punjab Agriculture Minister Syed Ashiq Hussain Kirmani gestures during a meeting on May 23, 2024. — Facebook/Syed Ashiq Hussain Kirmani

LAHORE: Provincial Agriculture Minister Syed Ashiq Hussain Kirmani said that in order to meet the growing residential needs, it is necessary to ensure the economic use of the available land and move towards the culture of high-rise buildings.

He said this while addressing a meeting of the special committee constituted by Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz at the Civil Secretariat on Monday. The meeting was chaired by Provincial Local Government Minister Zeeshan Rafique. Proposals to regulate unnecessary commercial use of agricultural land were considered during the meeting.

Co-convener of the committee, Agriculture Minister Syed Ashiq Hussain Kirmani, Advocate General Punjab, secretary local government, secretary law and officials concerned attended the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, provincial agriculture minister said that it is necessary to bring the illegal housing schemes under the ambit of law so that the public’s confidence in the real estate business could be increased.

Provincial Local Government Minister Zeeshan Rafique said that agriculture is the backbone of Punjab’s economy. “Effective monitoring of commercial use of agricultural land without planning is essential. Punjab CM wanted a coordinated approach for wise use of land. New legislation could be made in this regard if necessary”, he figured out.

Zeeshan Rafique further said that the real estate business provided employment to a large number of people. While enacting new legislation, care must be taken to balance agricultural and commercial use of land. He said that there should be a solid mechanism for registration of housing societies. During the meeting, advocate general, secretary local government and secretary law briefed the committee on various legal aspects. Reports of two sub-committees were also presented before the committee.

‘Promotion of agri mechanisation need of hour’

Priority is being given to promote agricultural mechanisation as per the vision of Chief Minister. Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Punjab Syed Ashiq Hussain Kirmani stated this while chairing a one-day consultative session with the stakeholders, distributors, experts and representatives of different banks for the promotion of agricultural mechanisation held at Agriculture House on Monday.

In this regard, the provision of interest-free agricultural loans to the farmers will be ensured under the “Transforming Punjab Agriculture” Programme at a total cost of 400 billion rupees. Apart from this, 25,000 agricultural implements and modern machinery will be provided to the farmers on subsidy with Rs12 billion, which will benefit 90 percent of the small farmers.

Agriculture Minister said that Agriculture Department and the private sector should jointly provide technical guidance to the farmers so that they can increase their agricultural production by using modern machinery.

Kirmani further said that Pak seeders and rice straw shredders are being provided to the farmers at a cost of Rs8 billion under the Smog Control Programme. The use of this modern machinery will reduce the post-harvest losses suffered by the paddy farmers and also help in controlling smog.

On this occasion, the minister endorsed that the State Bank of Pakistan is providing loan on imported machinery at 7 percent markup. There is a need to increase the credit limit for farmers and service providers so the promotion of agricultural machinery could become possible.

Kirmani further said that the private sector will be encouraged to import agricultural machinery so that the private sector can play a positive role in providing agricultural machinery to the service providers.

On this occasion, Secretary Agriculture, Punjab Iftikhar Ali Sahoo said that Punjab is facing major challenges for the promotion of agricultural mechanisation. He further said that today's consultation meeting includes all the stakeholders and with their actionable suggestions and advice, we will take practical steps to promote agricultural mechanisation. The federal government will be taken on board to reduce the rate of taxes applicable on import of agricultural machinery, he added.

Director Technical Heavy Industry Taxila Brigadier Atiq Ahmed, GCI Brigadier Sohail Ishrat, Special Secretary Agriculture Shehanshah Faisal Azeem, Additional Secretary Agriculture Task Force Punjab M Shabir Ahmed Khan, DG Agriculture Engineer Sohail Ahmed, Director General Agriculture Extension Ch Abdul Hameed, and Director of Agricultural Information Punjab Naveed Asmat Kahloon participated in the meeting.

Progressive farmers from the private sector Khalid Khokhar, Pakistan Agriculture Coalition Forum Kazim Saeed, Dawood Agro Company, Bank of Punjab, Guard Agri Company, HBL Pakistan and Bank Al Falah representatives were also present in the meeting.