The Punjab Chief Minister has announced up to Rs 100 billion exclusively for the development of agriculture and allied sectors for the next two years and also the formation of a “Kissan commission” (farmers” commission) to look into their complaints and issues. Shahbaz Sharif addressing the opening session of the first ever Punjab Agriculture Conference 2016 on Saturday said.
“This allocation will purely be for development and subsidy to be extended to the growers” during next two years and nothing to do with the departmental budget. This will also not include a sum of Rs 150 billion being spent on farm to market roads in the rural areas, or other allocations for providing clean drinking water or any other incentive to the rural folk.”
He said the commission would be from big and small farmers, bureaucrats, government representatives and other stakeholders and headed by him and the commission would meet once in two to three months to review the progress in the agriculture sector and devise a strategy to tackle any obstacle.
“Now the ball is in your court … We are going to allocate a huge sum and it is now your duty to make this province once again the food basket of this country and the region,” he told the conference.
He also advised participants to take full advantage of the conference where the government had not only invited farmers but also researchers, academia, agro-based industry representatives and other stakeholders.
He also called for concrete recommendations to bring the agro-economy out of the present status and promised to make a policy based on them though told them to pledge what they would give in return to the province and the country.
About the provision of subsidized electricity to the agricultural sector, the chief minister claimed a 3,600-megawatt-gas-fired electricity project was being built with joint efforts by the federal and provincial governments expected to be completed next year providing power at Rs 7 per unit, which at present was available at around 13 to 14 rupees per unit.
He then talked about $36 billion being invested on power generation projects out of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor the total investment of $46 billion. “These are completely transparent as investment is being done by Chinese while tariff has been fixed by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority. A major chunk of these projects will be completed by 2018 while some hydel power project will take some time and may complete by 2021,” he said.
Punjab Agriculture Minister Farrukh Javed earlier in his welcome address said farmers were facing multi-facet problems because of global warming, climate change and depressed international and domestic prices of grain. He said climate change was damaging their productivity while depressed prices were depriving them of profitability.
His law counterpart, Rana Sana Ullah, then assured the gathering that the provincial government would implement the suggestions and decisions taken by the farmers and other stakeholders in this conference. Members of the National and Punjab Assemblies Awais Khan Leghari and Karam Elahi Gondal also spoke.
Their suggestions included extending subsidy on urea and electricity bills, setting up an agricultural price commission in province, extending loans to small growers through the “Akhuwat programme” of the government, introducing a crop insurance scheme, maintenance of canals built by the government in rural areas and making agricultural researchers and research institutes accountable of government funds they would be using.
Source: Business Recorder