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NA Speaker opens debate on pre-budget proposals

May 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser on Thursday initiated comprehensive discussion on pre-budget proposals for agriculture development and outlined that farmers’ profitability, improved productivity, technology transfer and adaptation, access to new markets and rapid shift from low value to high value agricultural products should form the core of potential budget reserved for agriculture development.

“The Special Committee on Agricultural Products would comprehensively endeavor to assign substantive meanings to Pakistan’s agriculture development agenda,” he said while chairing Special Committee on Agricultural Products here at Parliament House on Thursday. The meeting was attended by officials from various ministries including Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood, State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar, Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan and Chairmen of the Standing Committees on Commerce, Finance, National Food Security and Research, Foreign Affairs, Law and Justice, and Kashmir respectively.

Matters of minimum support price for major crops, access to credit, regulatory duties on import, production and distribution of biotechnology seeds, taxation on agriculture machinery, import duties on fertilizers and pesticides, and allocation for agriculture research came under discussion.

The Members urged National Assembly Speaker Asad Qasier to convene a comprehensive meeting next week and invite Finance Minister, Minister for Power, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform to thoroughly look into the budget proposals for agriculture development. On the sidelines of the meeting of the Special Committee on Agricultural Products, the Speaker also invited experts of highly efficient and sustainable farming.

The experts highlighted that Pakistan can attain radical improvements in green agricultural production and the farmers may achieve significantly higher yields without pesticides and fertilizers.

The experts briefed the committee on latest practices of sustainable farming and stressed that Pakistan should move beyond the traditional subsistence level farming. The experts remarked that Pakistan’s sufficiency in food security, poverty alleviation and jobs creation is contingent upon transformation in agriculture.

In a separate meeting, the sub-Committee of the Special Committee on Agricultural Products deliberated on forging sustained vibrant linkages between academia and special committee on agriculture.

The meeting was attended by Vice Chancellors of Agriculture Universities and representatives of research institutions from across the country.

The Convener of the Sub-Committee Syed Fakhar Imam highlighted that the agriculture universities, being the repository of knowledge and agriculture research, are crucial to revitalization of agriculture research in Pakistan.

The Sub-Committee also instructed the Vice Chancellors to produce positions papers, backgrounders and comprehensive reports on highly value agricultural products, comparative analysis of cost of input supplies in developing countries, climate smart agriculture, comparative analysis of subsidies in the regional countries, action Plan for ICT enabled effective agriculture advisory services and action plan for optimizing water management practices to improve water productivity.

The participants of the committee termed the deliberation under the umbrella of the sub-committee to foster linkages with agriculture universities and promote agriculture research in the country, a ‘historic decision’.