The federal government has unveiled a Rs 309 billion Agriculture Emergency Programme to boost local production, reduce dependence on imports, improve lives of poor farmers and lead the country towards sustainable development. Speaking on the occasion, Jahangir Tareen said that Pakistan had to import food products despite being an agricultural country, having water, land, environment and other prerequisites and last year, $4 billion agriculture products were imported. He said that the previous governments had failed to promote the agriculture sector of the country. He said that out of the total Rs 309 billion package, the federal government would provide Rs 84 billion while the remaining amount of Rs 225 would be shared by the provincial governments. Tareen said that PC-1 of Agriculture Emergency Programme had been finalised and would be presented in the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council for approval. He said overall allocations for the agriculture sector had been enhanced as the federal government had increase it from Rs 1 billion in its Annual Development Plan last year to Rs 12 billion and same was followed in Punjab and other provinces. He said that the spending would be taken up to record level of Rs 70 billion in the next four years.
He said that the programme was a revolutionary step of the government and besides promoting the agriculture sector it would also benefit the local farmers as the special efforts would be made to enhance the per acre yield of all major crops. Special measures will be introduced to enhance per acre yield of wheat from 35-40 maunds, rice by 10-20 maunds, sugarcane by 650-800 maunds, adding that incentives were announced for the cultivation of oil seeds like canola and sunflower.
Agriculture is backbone of Pakistan’s economy but unfortunately it could not get due attention in the past. So far no government has taken tangible steps to promote agriculture sector. Government needs to increase budget of research and development for agriculture and should introduce plan to establish value added industries. After the 18th amendment, agriculture is now provincial subject but provinces have failed to play their due role in strengthening this sector. It is believed that government’s new plan will bring improvement and a good change in this sector.