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April 18, 2019

Speaker for policy shift to make agriculture more competitive, profitable


April 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Special Committee of the National Assembly on Agricultural Products initiated national deliberations to forge synergies between provinces and federation for laying the foundation of a truly inclusive and vibrant mechanism for agricultural revitalization.

The meeting of the Special Committee held on Wednesday with the chair of its Chairman Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaisar here at Parliament House and attended by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, provincial Agriculture Ministers and agriculture departments. Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser expressed sadness over the heavy losses inflicted upon farmers by the recent spell of rain and hailstorm and assured that he will personally request the prime minister to compensate the famers for the losses incurred. The Speaker also vowed to uplift the small farmers, protect their interest and end their exploitation. In a comprehensive meeting of the committee, the officials from the Ministry of National Food Security and Research briefed the committee about the recently announced National Agriculture Emergency Programme. The officials from provincial agriculture departments briefed the committee about the agriculture policies and institutional frameworks for agriculture development in each province. Speaker Asad Qaisar emphatically stressed a policy shift to make agriculture more competitive, profitable and sustainable. He underlined the need to reform the agriculture sector by investing in infrastructure, research, value chains, capacity building and enhanced access to finances and new markets. The Committee appreciated the agricultural entrepreneurship and farmers insurance schemes and urged the officials to scale up such initiatives at the national level. The members raised questions about soil health, minimum support price for major crops, insurances schemes, agriculture zoning, access to finances and information, drought resistant crops, climate adaptations and crop diversification.

The officials from the Ministry of National Food Security and Research highlighted that National Agriculture Emergency Programme based on comprehensive national consultation will deliver a breakthrough in agriculture and turn around the direction of the agriculture. It was stated that Pakistan’s agriculture growth was stagnated as a result of decline in spending on research and development, and investment. The Committee was informed that the after the 18th amendment, the budget allocation for agriculture has witnessed a 60% decline. It is pertinent to mention that the National Agriculture Emergency Programme is Rs287 billion programme that aims to conserve and increase productivity of water, increase in yield of major crops, harness untapped potential of fisheries, livestock initiatives for small and medium farmers and transform agriculture produce markets.

In a separate meeting with the Vice Chancellors of different agriculture universities, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser formed a subcommittee to forge vibrant linkages between academia and special committee on agriculture. The sub-committee will not only leverage research support for farmers’ responsive policies and enhanced production but also devise a framework for sustained linkages with the academia. The sub-committee will be headed by MNA Syed Fakhar Imam and include Chairman Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Parliamentary Secretary for Commerce Ms. Shandana Gulzar Khan and Muhammad Ihsan Ullah Tiwana. The meeting was also attended by Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan, Chairman Kashmir Committee Syed Fakhar Imam, Syed Naveed Qamar, Riaz Fatyana, Sher Akbar Khan, Engr. Usman Khan Tarakai, Imran Khattak, Muhammad Farooq Azam Malik, Mujahid Ali, Fazal Muhammad Khan, Mir Khan Muhammad Jamali, Faizullah, Rai Muhammad Murtaza Iqbal, Khalid Hussain Magsi, Chaudhry Iftikhar Nazir, Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Sajid Mehdi, Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpur and Syed Javed Ali Shah Jillani.

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