Minister flays own government for ignoring agriculture sector – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Monday severely criticized his own government for not having pro-agricultural policies, saying the current government has not granted relief to the sector until now, but the industries and services sectors have been lightened due to a greater voice of businessmen in the federal cabinet.

A meeting of the National Assembly’s Special Commission on Agricultural Products was held on Monday under the chairmanship of President Asad Qaiser. The meeting reviewed measures to cope with losses suffered by small farmers due to climate change across the country.

The aviation minister regretted that the voice of farmers and pro-agriculture politicians was weak, and subsequently the sector was ignored in successive budget programs and relief plans. He said the support given to the sector was not commensurate with the contributions of the sector. The minister added that wheat production is declining every year.

The current weather is negatively affecting the wheat harvest. “I am powerless to sit in the cabinet,” Khan said, adding that the government had so far been unable to do anything for the agricultural sector.

The recently announced Rs52 billion package should at least ensure its release, the aviation minister said, adding that the non-agricultural class has a more influential voice than the agricultural class.

“Where do we import wheat from? The government is not ready to give anything to our small farmers, ”Khan said, adding that in cabinet, too, he asked where the wheat was imported from.

Khan said that imported wheat costs 2,400 rupees per 40 kg, but our own farmers receive 1,800 rupees.

“Don’t be so cruel to your farmers,” Khan said, adding that the rate set by the Sindh government at 2,000 rupees per 40 kg is based on facts.

Last year the DAP was at Rs 2,800 and now it is Rs 5,000, Khan said, adding that he was in the cabinet but is sad he was not listened to even there. -low.

“I want to know how much the imported wheat is going down,” Khan asked.

The food secretary said imported wheat is sold at different prices.

The price of wheat increases on December 16, 2019, said Federal Minister of National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam, adding that at that time Sindh was not buying wheat.

India has a minimum support price of 27-34 crops, while Pakistan has a support price for only one crop. “We brought a summary of the cotton support price but it was not accepted,” said the imam, adding that he had requested the purchase of 0.4 million bales of cotton but that he had been accepted and lamented that it was about policy making.

Endorsing the views of the Minister of Aviation, committee members stressed that virtually little relief and priority has been given to the agricultural sector in policy planning, and that the sector has been successively ignored.

It has been said that excessive delays in decision making regarding incentives for farmers have taken a heavy toll on declining productivity.

They said the expensive importation of wheat was preferred over incentives to domestic farmers to increase Pakistan’s agricultural productivity.

Members stressed the need to expand Bank Zarai Taraqiati’s mandate to suit the well-being of farmers.

The committee was called upon to play a leading role in preventing the decline of the agricultural sector and exploitation of poor farmers.

Federal Finance Minister Hammad Azhar said agricultural revitalization was the prime minister’s top priority, and assured that the finance ministry would work closely with the committee to turn around the agricultural sector.

He said the reported urea sale for this year was the highest in a decade and that wheat and sugarcane producers have received comparatively better prices under the current government.

The price of imported wheat includes shipping, loading and other expenses, Azhar said, adding that Sindh has set a support price of 2,000, but only needs to source one million tonnes. while the federal government must consider both the farmers and the common man.

Referring to the rise in the price of DAP, he said that DAP was imported and the rise in international prices caused DAP prices to soar.

He urged the Committee to come up with proposals and a DAP grant mechanism.

Unfortunately, due to climate change, there have been problems, the speaker of the National Assembly said, speaking to the media. Our agriculture committee is reviewing policies and speaking openly here, Qaiser said, adding that a special committee has been formed to try to take pro-farmer action in the next budget.

Federal Minister Ghulam Sarwar gave a personal position on agriculture, said the speaker of the National Assembly, adding that they prepared a report on agriculture in collaboration with research institutes.

He added that their committee had proposed a support price of Rs 1,800 for wheat, which was approved. A law could also be passed to change the mandate of the ZTBL, he added.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, asked the subcommittee to provide a concrete budget proposal for the agricultural sector and urged the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Bank Zarai Taraqiati and committee members to design a mechanism to extend relief to drought-affected areas within two weeks.

The author of the Notice of Call to Attention, MP Ihan Ullah Tiwana, informed the Committee that farmers in Thal regions produce organic, rain-fed chickpeas which account for 80 percent of the chickpea production in the region. Pakistan.

The region has been constantly hit by natural disasters (drought) and duly notified by the provincial government.

The calamities affected crops and farmers’ incomes, causing farmers in these areas to default on payment.

He proposed that the accumulated mark-up be reversed by ZTBL and that COVID-19 can be used to partially repay the outstanding loan principal amount of small farmers in the mouzas and villages affected by the calamity, as declared by the provincial government. .

He also highlighted the need to establish a cutting-edge research center to help farmers develop climate-resistant varieties and increase their income through high-density plantings and vertical farming.

The Committee approved the proposals and recommended immediate action and relief.

The National Assembly’s Special Commission on Agricultural Products deliberated on the design of the “Kamyab Kisaan” program to promote youth engagement and employment in the agricultural sector; took the appeal notice for assistance to drought and disaster affected regions across the country and discussed the future of structural transformation of the agricultural sector.

The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Youth Affairs Usman Dar briefed the Committee on the upcoming program for youth in agriculture and appreciated the support of the Committee for its full support.

He said low-cost loans for agricultural equipment, inputs, capacity building and business development services were essential elements of the “Kamyab Kisan program”.

The speaker informed the Committee that the “Kamyab Kisan” program was one of the policy instruments proposed by the Special Committee on Agricultural Products, and he urged members of the National Assembly to assist in the effective implementation of the program. field program.

The committee was called upon to play a leading role in preventing the decline of the agricultural sector and exploitation of poor farmers.

He urged the Committee to come up with proposals and a DAP grant mechanism.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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