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August 15, 2019

Govt launching Rs26bln projects to boost farming productivity


August 15, 2019

LAHORE: The government is launching Rs26 billion worth of seed replacement and mechanisation plan for wheat, rice, and sugarcane crops, besides focusing on oilseeds promotion and research to boost agricultural productivity to strengthen agrarian communities socioeconomically, an official said on Wednesday.

“This program, a joint effort of federal and provincial government, is focused in provision of all needed relief and innovation to the farmers in order to increase per acre yield, bringing down the cost of production and ensuring much required returns from their agriculture,” said Dr Muhammad Anjum Ali, Director General Agriculture (Extension) Punjab talking to a group of journalists.

The provincial agriculture department official said, “Pakistan’s imports almost Rs 22 billion worth seed of vegetables, oilseeds, fodders, and other minor crops, but produces wheat, cotton, sugarcane and basmati seeds locally”.

“However, the loose implementation of Seed Act 1976 amended is a major hurdle to provide quality seed to the farmers,” Ali said, while lamenting the almost zero implementation of Section 22 H of Seed Act, which guaranteed provision of true-to-type certified fruit plants.

DGA said adoption of certified seed was very low and farmers were not paying attention to wheat seed replacement despite the fact it was our staple food and the biggest crop.

“National Projects on major crops are addressing this vital issue to supply certified seed at subsidies prices,” the official added.

Talking on Urban Agriculture he forcefully advocated the idea of promoting this concept and said, “We should grow vegetables in lawns instead of flowers. Anyone who has a house over two canals should be asked to grow food for his own consumption as he/she is occupying almost equal size of per capita availability of cultivated land left in Punjab province”.

He also supported the idea of growing fruit bearing trees comparable to eco region instead of simple trees during the tree plantation campaign to target lungs and stomach at the same time with a target on malnutrition as well.

Shedding light on projects, Ali said for wheat a comprehensive project of slightly over Rs12.5 billion had been chalked out, while another Rs3 billion would be shared by the farmers coming under its umbrella.

“It will be a five-year plan in which 60 percent will be given by the provincial government and 40 percent by the federal government and it is designed for increasing the yield and bringing down the input cost and promotion of sowing of certified seed and provision of wheat planters and other agricultural implements,” the official said.

Ali said the efforts were underway to make paddy a profitable crop for the farmers by enhancing yield under a project worth Rs6.327 billion, aimed at promoting mechanisation such as rice transplanters.

“Similarly, there is a project worth Rs2.048 billion for sugarcane with the same objectives,” he said.

To decrease our dependence on imported edible oil, the department was taking up a project worth Rs5.115 billion to give subsidy to growers on sowing oilseed crops, promoting cultivation of sesame, sunflower, canola etc.

Replying to another question, he said,” All the future development programmes are being devised keeping in view the climatic changes and are being chalked out with the consultation of stakeholders such as Rice Exporters Association and Sugar Millers, which will help carry out market-oriented research”.

The Punjab agriculture department official also said providing insurance coverage and ‘Kissan Cards’ to small growers was another revolutionary step taken by the government.

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