Govt unveiled Rs 309 billion Agriculture Emergency Programme
03 July, 2019
ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Tuesday unveiled a Rs 309 billion Agriculture Emergency Programme to boost local production, reduce dependence on imports, improve lives of poor farmers and lead the country towards sustainable development.
The programme was announced at a joint press conference by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen.
Speaking on the occasion, Jahangir Tareen said that Pakistan had to import food products despite being an agricultural country, having water, land, environment and other prerequisites. “Last year, $4 billion agriculture products were imported,” he added. He said that the previous governments had failed to promote the agriculture sector of the country.
To a question, he said that sugar prices rose after the increase in tax rate, which was deposited in government account. “No sugar mill in the country will benefit from the government’s increased tax on sugar in the new budget. The money from the rise in sugar prices will not go to me or to the sugar mills – it is going to the government,” he said. He said that any additional revenue for an increase in sugar prices was going to the government, not the private sector.
Giving details about the programme, he said that out of the total Rs 309 billion package, the federal government would provide Rs 84 billion while the remaining amount of Rs 225 would be shared by the provincial governments.
Addressing the press conference, Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan also lauded the efforts of Jahangir Khan Tareen in agriculture development of the country.
The provincial agriculture ministers of Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were also present on the occasion. The minister said that Jahangir Khan Tareen had made lot of efforts to formulate agriculture emergency programme, which was focused on increased productivity of major crops including wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane and oil seed.
He said that Tareen had taken all the provinces on board and held several meetings with them and formed working groups in order to finalise the programme.
Meanwhile, Tareen said that PC-1 of Agriculture Emergency Programme had been finalised and would be presented in the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for approval.
He said overall allocations for the agriculture sector had been enhanced as the federal government had increase it from Rs 1 billion in its Annual Development Plan last year to Rs 12 billion and same was followed in Punjab and other provinces. He said that the spending would be taken up to record level of Rs 70 billion in the next four years.
He said that the programme was a revolutionary step of the government and besides promoting the agriculture sector it would also benefit the local farmers as the special efforts would be made to enhance the per acre yield of all major crops.
Special measures will be introduced to enhance per acre yield of wheat from 35-40 maunds, rice by 10-20 maunds, sugarcane by 650-800 maunds, adding that incentives were announced for the cultivation of oil seeds like canola and sunflower.
In order to make the agriculture produces more competitive, he said that special measures would be introduced for energy, water conservation and pest management to reduce the cost of production.
He said that Rs 220 billion would be spent on the construction of small dams and water course development, adding that 70,000 water courses would be developed.
He said that about 50% water courses would be developed which would help to save about 9 million acre feet water annually and this program would be completed within the next four years.
Jahangir Tareen said that unfortunately, the Sindh government had not so far participated in the programme, adding that the federal government had requested them to participate in the programme by setting aside all the political differences for the larger interests of farmers and development of agriculture sector of the country.
Despite this, the federal government had allocated an amount of Rs 15-18 billion in its PSDP 2019-20 for Sindh in order to promote its agriculture and livestock sectors as well as other areas. He said that under the programme, special measures would be taken to exploit fisheries sector.
Tareen said that government was also initiating three programmes in livestock sector, adding that subsidy would be provided to farmers for calve farming that would boost meat exports from the country.