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Thursday April 18, 2024

‘Agriculture could be an engine for future growth’

By Our Correspondent
November 28, 2018

LAHORE: Punjab Planning and Development Department Chairman Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani has said agriculture could be an engine for future growth by modernising it, shifting towards high value added commodities, boosting export revenue, creating jobs, raising productivity and improving water availability and climate change.

Addressing a conference ‘Punjab Wheat Sector Stakeholders Conference’ organised by the Punjab government in collaboration with FAO United Nations and World Bank jointly organised under the World Bank’s financed “Strengthening Markets for Agriculture and Rural Transformation (SMART) program at P&D Complex, here on Tuesday, the chairman said importance of wheat sector for Punjab’s economy was well-known. He stressed the need for modernising wheat sector which was a key part of the SMART Punjab Programme launched earlier this year.

In the conference, Punjab Food Department, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and World Bank brought together stakeholders from the wheat sector to discuss how the sector could best move forward to serve the interests of all stakeholders.

Addressing the conference, Provincial Secretary Food Shoukat Ali said Punjab Food Department is committed to assisting food security in the province and maintain a fit for purpose wheat reserve.

Dmitry Prikhodko from FAO’s Investment Centre, and a leading expert on wheat markets and policy, highlighted that international experience has shown that moving to more market-oriented wheat marketing system benefits all through raising productivity, incomes and quality, thus reinforcing the sectors’ growth and ability to ensure food security needs are met.

He stressed that modernising the sector would take time, commitment and the sector’s stakeholders working together, and welcomed the Punjab Food Department’s careful reflection and consensus building approach as a key step in successfully moving forward.

Hans Jansen from the World Bank set out how the SMART programme is a comprehensive package designed to encourage positive change across the entire agriculture sector in Punjab and welcomed the government’s willingness to address longstanding but now largely outdated policies, such as the wheat procurement policy, that have hindered a much needed structural change in Punjab’s agriculture sector.