APP92-11 ISLAMABAD: December 11 - Akmal Siddiq, Chief of Rural Development & Food Security Asian Development Bank called on Prime Minister Imran Khan. APP

ISLAMABAD, Dec 11 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday said that introduction of latest technology and provision of all possible facilities to the farmers’ community were among the government’s top priorities as the agriculture sector was the backbone of the country’s economy.

He said practical steps were being taken under a comprehensive strategy to boost agricultural sector as a huge chunk of population in Pakistan was attached directly or indirectly to it.

The prime minister was talking to Asian Development Bank Chief for Rural Development and Food Security Dr Akmal Siddiq who called on him. During the meeting Minister for National Food Security Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar and Minister for Planning Asad Umar were present, besides Jahangir Tareen, PM office media wing said in a press release.

The prime minister said the government was also focusing on fisheries and farming, besides increasing production of wheat, rice and other major crops through introduction of modern modes and technologies.

He said these sectors had been neglected in the past despite the fact these had huge potential.

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The prime minister said the government was also keen to take advantage from the Chinese experience in the agriculture sector.

He also appreciated the support and technical assistance by the Asian Development Bank and welcomed the introduction of information technology.

During the meeting issues pertaining to the agriculture sector challenges faced by the developing countries especially Pakistan, like technology, environment, lack of facilities in research, development and marketing which negatively impacted this sector, and the technical assistant, future mechanism and other support provided by the Asian Development Bank in the agriculture sector were discussed in length.

Briefing the prime minister about the study conducted by the Asian Development Bank and its recommendation, Dr Akmal said that the agriculture sector, under the present requirements, especially due to introduction of the modern technology, required consistent patronage from the government.

He said that special focus should be made upon research and development, provision and supply of latest seeds, chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides etc), availability of financial resources, cold chain and marketing.

He further said that from the outcome of ADB’s study during the year 2018 in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam, it was established that the required infrastructure for the agricultural produce had been in shambles and the fast decaying produce like fruits, hardly made way to the market through cold chain by ten per cent.

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He apprised that the agriculture sector had been neglected by the government besides, the investment ratio in this sector was also negligible. The growers did not fully reap the benefits of their toil due to poor yield.

Dr Kamal said the Asian Development Bank had approved a grant of $1 million for the promotion of information and technology in this sector and the project would commence from the next year.

The Bank had also been considering provision of $150 loan to support the establishment of modern wholesale market in Lahore.

Besides, it was also mulling to introduce corporate agriculture on wider scale for the promotion of agriculture sector in Balochistan province especially in the Kacchi canal area, he added.