An APP Feature by Imran Nazir Abbasi
ISLAMABAD, Aug 25 (APP):Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government, after assuming powers is paying a special attention to the uplift of agriculture and livestock sectors on modern lines and has designed a Rs309 billion Prime Minister Agriculture Emergency Program.
The program is envisaged to boost local agricultural production, reduce dependence on imports, improve lives of poor farmers and lead the country towards sustainable development by exploring new agricultural markets, introducing initiatives for soil and water conservation and promoting the aquaculture farming in potential areas of the country.
The emergency program to be formally commenced by next month will revolutionize the output of major cash crops including wheat, rice, cotton, maize and sugarcane.
The initiative would also help in promoting the cultivation of minor crops like oil seed, pulses on which the country is spending billion of dollars every year, besides, it would also help in promoting the culture of growing high value fruit, vegetables and development of livestock sector to fetch handsome foreign exchange reserves for the country.
In this regard, the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) in its recent meeting has accorded approval to 13 mega development projects conceived under emergency program, whereas the final approval is likely to be given by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) in its next meeting.
Commenting on the salient features of the program, Focal Person of Prime Minister Emergency Program Muhammad Ali Talpur said that out of the total Rs309 billion package, the federal government would provide Rs84 billion while the remaining amount of Rs225 billion would be shared by the provincial governments.
He said the current government, after assuming the power, had attached high priority to the development of agricultural sector and had enhanced overall allocations for this sector.
The federal government had increased its spending from Rs1 billion in its annual Development Plan last year to Rs12 billion and same was followed in Punjab and other provinces, adding that the government intended to take up the spending up to the record level of Rs70 billion during next four years.
He said that the program was a revolutionary step of the government and beside promoting the agricultural sector it would also be beneficial for the local farmers as the special efforts would be made to enhance the per acre yield of all major crops.
Special measures, he said would also 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 further said that Rs220 billion would be spent on the construction of small dams and water courses development, adding that 70,000 water courses would be developed.
About 50% of total water courses would be upgraded and developed which would help save about 9 million acres feet water annually and this program would be completed with in next four years,he remarked
Meanwhile, Spokesman of Federal Ministry of National Food Security and Research Dr Javed Hammayun said that beside this program, the government was also negotiating with China for its cooperation in agricultural sector development by sharing its expertise and knowledge.
He said that in order to share the Chinese expertise in the field of agriculture and livestock farming, joint working groups had been formed for identifying the areas of cooperation.
Besides, he said that a frame work agreement and a Memorandum of understanding were also signed with China for establishing foot and mouth disease free zone for livestock production to fulfill the international standards that would help in enhancing the local meat and its products exports.
He said that a Joint Working Group of both the countries was formed under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would meet in October this year and finalize the areas of cooperation.
Dr Javed Hammayun said that in the JWG meeting, both the countries would finalize the cooperation in the areas of remote sensing technology, pre and post harvest handling and storage of agriculture commodities.
Both the countries were likely to set bilateral cooperation for establishing genetic resource of crops, livestock and poultry, he added.
He said that Pakistan was also seeking Chinese expertise for fisheries and aquaculture development in order to exploit the huge fish farming potential existing in the largest coastal belt and fresh water trout farming existing in the Northern Areas of the country.