Gov’t to spend Rs 286 bln on agri sector in 5 years: Minister

ISLAMABAD, May 28 (APP):Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan Tuesday said the incumbent government was fully focused on the development of agriculture sector and in this regard 13 projects worth Rs 286 billion would be launched during next five years to provide affordable and quality food products to the masses.

“Out of the total budget, an amount of Rs 86 billion would be allocated by the federal government whereas the rest Rs 200 billion would be spent by the provinces,” he said while addressing a press conference here.

The minister said these 13 projects would cover all areas of the agriculture sector including livestock, poultry, fisheries, and crops.

Criticising the previous governments, Sahibzada Sultan said the sector was totally neglected during past tenures, specially after devolution of powers to the provinces and the budget for this sector declined by around 70% from around Rs 40 billion to Rs 15 billion per year.

Meanwhile talking about the recent agreements signed with China under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the minister informed that two out of five agreements were related to the agriculture sector.

He said under the agreement on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), China would offer its technology and services to help Pakistan establishing FMD free zones in the country.

He said after establishment of FMD free zones, Pakistan would be able to export its meat to anywhere around the globe including the European countries.

The minister pointed out that at present, the country’s export in meat sector stood around only $200 million which was very negligible against the real potential.

Under the second agreement of agriculture framework, all areas of agriculture sector had been covered up and under this agreement, China will provide skill, machinery, and technology specially to small farmers besides introducing new breeds of livestock, poultry, and fisheries.

The minister informed that Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nation had nominated ministry of food security and research for an award to recognize its services in food research.

Replying to a question, Sahibzada Sultan said the wheat target of 25.8 million metric ton could not be achieved due to heavy rains in the wheat sowing areas and the wheat farmers suffered a loss of around 1.2 million metric ton.

He said the total wheat requirement in the country was around 25.5 million while total expected production was around 24.12 million metric ton.

He said the government had also a previous stock of 3.7 million metric ton so even then the country would have surplus wheat.

He said he himself had visited the rain affected areas and his ministry had submitted the report and Punjab Revenue Board was making estimates to compensate the affected farmers who would get the compensation soon.