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October 19, 2020

Rs26 billion approved for physical infrastructure to control pests

Islamabad

October 19, 2020

Islamabad : Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research has said that the Prime Minister has approved a package of Rs26 billion for erecting a physical infrastructure in the coming years to combat the menace of the pest for the crops.

The Minister was speaking at an online dialogue on “To build back better” organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here Saturday. The webinar was held in connection with the World Food Day. Imam said that the government imported wheat to overcome the shortage of 1.7 million tons which would arrive in Pakistan by January 2021. He said that the private sector also started importing the wheat and it would alleviate the problem further. The Prime Minister’s 5-Year Plan of Rs277 million programme and the COVID-19 Rs50 m fiscal package for farmers as subsidy on seeds and fertilisers will also encourage growers.

He said the government will encourage and support the small farmers by providing research-based timely information regarding seeds and climatic vagaries. He said that the measures would ensure a fair return of their products and improve the quality of living of the people of Pakistan by providing safe and nutritious food to all on fair prices. Mina Dowlatchcahi, the country head of Food and Agriculture Organisation, observed that the agriculture sector is currently facing two threats that include Climate Change and the pests attack. The recent pandemic, she said, exposed the fragility of our agriculture.

She added further that almost 58% the world’s work force in agriculture consists of women who are more vulnerable to health diseases. Therefore, we need to have short- to medium- and long-term plans to address this issue. She highlighted the needs of economic inclusion and social protection of the most vulnerable class. Along with food security, we also need to work on the equation of the availability of safe food and the utilisation of food, she added. Earlier, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, in his opening remarks, opined that the recent inflation is the result of Pakistan’s rupee depreciation as compared to the dollar, the gaps in government agricultural and food security policies and the unavailability of new varieties of seeds compatible with changing environment and pests attacks. He said there is a dire need of supporting the rural economy and the agriculture sector because it not only ensures food security but also provides jobs.