KARACHI, Mar 05 (APP): Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari here on Sunday inaugurated Seed `Subsidy Programme: Reimbursement for wheat seed by pressing a key of a computer and transferred Rs 8.39 billion to Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) which started disbursing an amount of Rs 5000 per acre to the small growers holding agricultural land up to 12 acres.
The programme was organized by the Sindh Agriculture Department in collaboration with BISP here at the CM house and was attended by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, MPA Ms Faryal Talpur, former chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Sindh PPP President Nisar Khuhro, Federal Minister Shazia Mari and Advisor to the CM Manzoor Wassan, provincial ministers, MPAs and MNAs,
Earlier, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto through a presentation, was told that the floods of 2022 destroyed 3.6 million acres of Kharif crops out of 4.4 million acres. The farmers suffered a loss to the tune of Rs. 421 billion.
The Chief Minister said that the disruption of the crop cycle threatened our food security, livelihoods, and economy. He added that the Sindh government, on the directives of the Party leadership, planned to support the farmers in the form of enhancing the support price of wheat and Agriculture inputs to revive the agriculture sector.
The Chief Minister said that Rs 13.5 billion were required to finance the seed subsidy program. “The Sindh government contributed Rs 8.39 billion and the federal government had committed Rs 4.7 billion,” he said and added that due to funding deadlock with the federal government and lack of authentic data on farmers, the initial program of providing free seed was revisited when the sowing season had commenced.
The CM said that the implementation strategy was changed from the provision of free seed to reimbursement of the cost of seed at Rs 5,000 per acre.
Murad Ali Shah said that backing out of the federal government from providing their share constrained his government to limit the subsidy to the farmers holding the land up to 12.5 Acres in the first phase and 25 acres in the second phase.
He said that he was keen to reimburse the amount in lieu of seed to all the farmers, but the federal government did not fulfill its commitment, therefore his government has limited the reimbursement to the small growers holding 12 acres in the first phase.
The CM said that after disbursement of Rs 4.227 billion, an amount of Rs 4.17 billion would remain in balance with BISP which would be disbursed in phase II among the farmers holding land up to 25 Acres and the left-out farmers of the first category of 12 acres.
Federal Minister Shazia Marri said that BISP had set up 110 Centers at the Taluka level in partnership with Habib Bank Limited to disburse the cash through mobile accounts, after biometric verification on site.
Ms. Shazia Marri said that the provincial government has transferred Rs 8.39 billion to BISP out of which Rs 4.227 billion would be disbursed in the next 10 days.
It may be noted that the CM had said that the remaining Rs 4.17 billion balance with BISP would be disbursed in phase II wherein farmers holding land up to 25 Acres and the left-out farmers of the first category will be covered.
Advisor to Chief Minister on Agriculture Manzoor Wassan, while talking about the challenges in implementing the subsidy program, said that there was no authentic data on farmers. He added that a massive number of people across the length and breadth of the province reached out for data collection.
He said that the development of a Mobile App and training of concerned staff on data collection and verification of the App was a big challenge also. Meanwhile, the verification of land documents by farmers was another issue but all the problems and challenges were met and developed a data bank of the growers holding up to 12 acres and 25 acres.
Secretary Agriculture Aijaz Mahesar briefing the chairman said that the world bank helped them to develop a mobile App.
Process: It was pointed out that committees were formed at the Tapa level for the verification of land records.