Bringing the per acre yield of wheat in Punjab at par with Sindh could help spare 3.6 million acres of land for cultivation of canola crop in the province thus leading to decrease in dependence on imports to meet the edible oil requirement.
The cultivation of canola would also help saving substantial amount of Rs 112.5 billion currently being spent on the import of edible oil, said Javed Salim Qureshi, Convenor Standing Committee on Agriculture, Seeds and Pesticides of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry while talking to Business Recorder here today.
He urged the government to take necessary steps for introducing co-operative farming scheme to benefit the small farmers having less than 12 acres of land who cannot afford pesticide consultancy for their crops protection and mechanised farming. Similarly, corporate farming also needs to be introduced for the big land holders; as these steps would help improve per acre yield.
He stressed the need for special focus on the agriculture sector that is the main contributor to the national GDP.
The government must introduce zero general sales tax on all agriculture inputs including fertilisers, pesticides and agriculture machinery, he added. He was of the view that different areas could be specified for different crops in line with the fertility of land, availability of water and other soil characteristics to increase the productivity.
Underlining the need for quality seeds to increase the agriculture production, he said that most of the farmers could not use better seeds mainly due to lack of awareness and affordability.
The government should develop a mechanism to ensure provision of quality seeds to the farmers. Highlighting the reasons of low productivity, Qureshi said the farmers generally don’t use the certified seed due to lack of awareness and availability. He also proposed the introduction of DNA bar coding and finger printing lab for certification of seeds on the pattern of developed economies.
The farmers are not getting appropriate price of their crops as they cannot hold their production due to lack of nearby storage facility, Qureshi said adding that the government should construct cold and dry storage in all the villages so that the farmers could be saved from the middlemen exploitation whom they sell their produce at throw away price.
He further asked the government to introduce and strengthen the co-operative system by providing all kinds of subsidies through this system rather providing direct subsidy to the farmers.
Source: Business Recorder