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Rs100bn ‘placatory’ package for farmers

Rs100bn ‘placatory’ package for farmers

LAHORE: The Punjab government will spend Rs100 billion “purely on development” of the agriculture sector and form a “Kissan Commission” to suggest areas for official intervention and oversee spending during the next two years.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced the package on Saturday at the Punjab Agriculture Conference which was finally held after two earlier postponements. The chief minister insisted this money would purely be spent on development activities, and routine and recurring expenditure would not be part of the package.

The chief minister also asked the farmers to come up with critical areas, where the government should play the role. “Come up with concrete suggestions, and you would not find the government lacking, either in money or political will,” he said and added: “Even if takes the entire budget of next two years, the government is still ready. The only condition is workability of the suggestions and their payback time. Money would not be a constraint.”

The well-attended and much-awaited conference was participated in by all farmer bodies (Pakistan Kissan Ittehad, Farmers Associate Pakistan, Pakistan Kissan Board), academia (University of Agriculture, Faisalabad and University of Veterinary and Animal Science), ministers and secretaries concerned (agriculture, livestock, forestry and irrigation) and private sector.

He said agriculture is the backbone of national economy in the real sense and promotion of agriculture, prosperity of farmers and increase in per acre yield is our mission. He said the Punjab government had taken a number of solid measures for the welfare and prosperity of the farmers and development of agriculture sector during the last seven and a half years and would continue such steps in future as well.

Shahbaz Sharif said representatives of farmers, agriculture experts and government members should fully participate in working groups and formulate concrete proposals and recommendations.

He said the agriculture conference was not a traditional convention but a serious forum through which a solid strategy had to be evolved for the promotion and development of agriculture.

He said full attention was paid to the promotion of livestock during last seven and a half years but desired results could not be achieved. “Our farmer is working day and night but there is no increase in per acre yield.”

He said the agriculture extension service had ended and research institutions were not doing the desired work due to which the process of giving advice to farmers had also been stopped. He said increase in per acre yield was not possible without transferring modern technology and results of agriculture to the farmers. He said agriculture planners, government, agriculture research institutions and universities would have to work jointly.

He said Rs100 billion would be allocated for the prosperity of the farmers and development of agriculture in the budget of Punjab but the benefit of these billions of rupees should go to the farmers and agriculture sector in the real sense.

Punjab Minister for Agriculture Farrukh Javed threw light on the aims and objectives of the conference. He said new policies would have to be formulated for the farmers keeping in view the changing weather conditions and international slump.

Law minister Rana Sanaullah said it’s high time decisions were taken for the promotion of agriculture and empowering farmers.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2016

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