Ensuring food security, promoting agriculture sector foremost priority of present govt: PM
ISLAMLABAD: February 08 - Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs meeting on Agriculture Reforms. APP

ISLAMABAD, Feb 8 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that ensuring food security, promoting agriculture sector and helping farmers to get fair return of their produce was the foremost priority of the present government.

Despite its importance in national economy, development of agriculture sector on modern lines and promotion of technology was neglected in the past, results of which were being faced by the farmers, he added.

The prime minister was presiding over a review-meeting here regarding reforms for the revival of agriculture sector.

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam, Advisor to PM Dr Ishrat Hussain, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan, Special Assistants to PM Dr Moeed Yusuf, Dr Waqar Masiood, Governor State Bank
Dr Reza Baqir, Provincial Ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Makhdoom Hasham Jawan Bakht, Muhammad Sabtain Khan, Hussain Jahanian Gardezi, Syed Samsam Hussain Bukhari, Sardar Hasnain Bahadur Dareshak, Taimur Saleem Jhagra, Syed Muhammad Ishtiaq, private sector representatives and senior officers of the relevant departments.

The prime minister said that in order to tackling the challenges of food security in the wake of growing population, reducing the expenditures of food imports and utilizing the potential of sector, the promotion of agriculture sector was a national priority.

The meeting decided to constitute a high-level committee to be led by the prime minister for the promotion of agriculture sector.

The committee comprising representatives of federal and provincial governments, private sector and experts will finalize and present the Agricultural Transformation Plan to the prime minister so as to ensure its implantation on priority basis.

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The meeting was told that with the below-potential contribution of agriculture sector in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Pakistan was also behind in the region due to low production of wheat, rice, maize, cotton and sugarcane.

It was informed that the contribution of agriculture sector in the country’s GDP could be taken to US $ 74 billion by the year 2031 through an effective strategy, and provision of financial and technical assistance to the farmers.

The meeting was told that the contribution of agriculture sector in the country’s GDP in 2020 was recorded at US $ 49 billion, including US $ 31 billion (Livestock), US $ one billion (Fisheries) and US $ 10 billion (Crops).

As the contribution of agriculture sector in the country’s GDP in the year 2000 was US $ 20 billion with US $ 10 billion each in the areas of livestock and crops, the capacity of crops’ production could not be enhanced during the last 20 years as per the potential, it was told.

The meeting was told that the per acre average yield of various crops in Pakistan was recorded at Wheat (29 Maund), Rice (50 Maund), Maize (57 Maund), Cotton (18 Maund) and Sugarcane (656 Maund), whereas in India the average per acre yields of crops was Wheat (51 Maund), Rice (64 Maund), Maize (42 Maund), Cotton (18 Maund) and Sugarcane (796 Maund).

It was told the average per acre yield of various crops achieved by progressive farmers in the country was Wheat (45 Maund), Rice (80 Maund), Maize (80 Maund), Cotton (35 Maund) and Sugarcane (950 Maund).

The meeting was further told the farmers in Pakistan were getting the facility of US $ 140 per acre agricultural credit as compared to India (US $ 389), the United States (US $ 192) and China (US $ 628).

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Similarly in terms of subsidy, the growers in Pakistan were getting US $ 27 assistance per acre, which was also low when compared to other countries.

The meeting was briefed in detail about the proposed Agricultural Transformation Plan 2021 for utilizing true potential of the country’s agriculture sector.

In the first phase of Agricultural Transformation Plan, presented to the Prime Minister, eight major measures, including reforms in the seed sector, introduction of digital subsidy system, promotion of the use of machinery, effective utilization of water, provision of credit to farmers, reorganization of extension services, storage facilities and reforms program in research sectors had been identified, it was told.

Under the plan, cotton, olive, genetic improvement in livestock and fisheries would be considered as priority sectors.

Proposed time-lines regarding the implementation of reforms in above mentioned sectors were also presented to the Prime Minister.

The meeting was also briefed about the provision of targeted subsidies to farmers through digital process.

It was told that according to the statistics, the data of 67% (around 3.7 million) of farmers in Punjab was available, out of which around 1.8 million growers had somehow used the services through digital system. Subsidy had been provided to 900,000 farmers in the province.

The meeting was told 400,000 farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were registered at digital platform.

It was also briefed about the promotion of the use of machinery to enhance agricultural production. Proposed official statistics required for government assistance were also presented in the meeting.