ISLAMABAD, Apr 17 (APP):Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan Wednesday said that agricultural sector has tremendous potential and stressed the need to facilitate farmers and encourage value addition to agricultural products to make it more profitable.

Chairing the 12th meeting of the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA), the minister termed the agriculture sector as back-bone of economy and said “We need to adopt modern technologies, liberal marketing strategies and investor friendly policies to reap the real potential of this area.”

He said that FCA provided an important platform for the Federation to formulate a cohesive agricultural planning in consultation with all the stakeholders and strategic recommendations from this forum would help in finding solutions of the problems, faced by resource-poor farmers.

He said that Ministry of National Food Security and Research in collaboration with all the stakeholders, was committed to create enabling environment for ensuring food security in the country.

The minister at the outset reiterated the government’s commitment to facilitate farmers and enhance domestic agricultural production through introducing modern machinery, improved quality seeds, latest technologies and trainings.

The minister said that government was fully cognizant of the importance of agriculture based economic growth for micro-economic stability and development of the country and committed to create enabling environment for more investment along the value-chain of various agricultural products.

He said that it also envisaged enhancing farm profitability and competitiveness through realizing the existing productivity potential of various crops, livestock and horticulture.

The minister said the Government has imposed agriculture emergency with around Rs. 290 billion projects for promoting agriculture growth in the next four years.

He said that high-end markets were demanding that the agro-product should be exported from quarantine pest-free zones while the issue of pesticides maximum residual limit was also arising in export from these markets.

He called upon the provincial government to develop pest-free zone to boost the exports.

Later the meeting was given a detailed review of Rabi crops 2018-19 and production plan of Kharif crop 2019-20.

The meeting was informed that FCA in its meeting on 11th October 2018 fixed the wheat production target at 25.51 million tons from an area of 8.833 million hectares.

As per initial estimate of provincial crop reporting center wheat has been grown on an area of 8.765 million hectares, which constituted 99.23 percentage of the target area.

The meeting was also informed that total estimated gram production for the year 2018-19 had been reported at 438.97 thousand tons from an area of 943.74 thousand hectares which reflects the increase of 35.74 percent over the last year.

The FCA further was informed that in 2018-19 Lentil had an area of 12.44 thousand hectares with the total production of 6.49 thousand tons which reflected the increase of 2.38 percent over the last year. However the decrease in area over the last year was due to the shifting of the area toward wheat crop.

The committee was told that in 2018-19 potato had an area of 188.08 thousand hectares with the total expected production of 4820.15 thousand tons which showed the increase of 8.06 percent whereas increase in area was 1.62 percent over the last year.

The representatives of the Pakistan Metrological Department briefed the committee about the facilities being provided by the Met office to the farmers.

The committee recommends that the weather advisory should be provided timely to the farmers so they can take precautionary measures to avoid any loss.