A meeting discusses agriculture transformation plan

By Staff Reporter
Tuesday – February 9, 2021
ISLAMABAD: A meeting on Monday deliberated upon the first phase of agriculture transformation plan, wherein reforms in seed, introduction of digital subsidy system, promotion of use of machinery, efficient use of water, provision of credit to farmers, restructuring of extension services, identification of major initiatives including the introduction of reform programmes in the areas of storage facilities and research was discussed.

According to a press release, the prime minister (PM) Imran Khan chaired a review meeting on reforms in the agricultural sector.

The meeting decided to set up a high-level committee under the chairmanship of the PM to promote the agricultural sector.

The committee will consist of representatives from the federal and provincial governments, the private sector and experts who will finalise the agriculture transformation plan and submit it to the PM to ensure its implementation on priority basis.

The proposed agriculture transformation plan 2021 is to harness the existing potential in the agricultural sector.

Under the plan, genetic improvement in cotton, olives, livestock and fisheries will be taken as priority sectors.

A detailed briefing was provided on digital methodology for providing targeted subsidy to farmers.

According to available statistics, data of 67 percent farmers (about 37 lakh) is available with Punjab province.

Of these, 1.8 million farmers have used digital services in one form or another.

9 lakh (or 900,000) farmers have been provided subsidy.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 400,000 farmers are registered on digital platforms.

A detailed briefing on the promotion of the use of machinery to increase agricultural production in which the proposed figures for the assistance required by the government were presented.

The share of the agricultural sector in the gross domestic product (GDP) is less than the existing capacity.

Similarly, production of wheat, rice, maize, cotton and sugarcane is also lower than that of the region.

The meeting was informed that with effective strategy and provision of financial and technical assistance to farmers, the ratio of agricultural production could be increased to $74 billion by the year 2031.

The share of agriculture sector in the country’s GDP in the year 2020 was $49 billion in which $31 billion was recorded in livestock, $1 billion dollars in fisheries and $17 billion dollars in agricultural crops.

In the year 2000, the share was $20 billion, of which $10 billion was livestock and $10 billion was crops. In this regard, in the last 20 years, the production capacity of agricultural crops has not been able to harness the potential.

Referring to various commodities, it was informed that the average yield of wheat crop is 29 maund per acre, rice 50 maund, maize 57 maund, cotton 18 maund and sugarcane 656 maund.

The average production of progressive farmers in the country stands at wheat 45 maund per acre, rice 80 maund, maize 80 maund, cotton 35 maund while the average production in sugarcane is 950 maund.

At present $140 agri credit per acre is available to the farmer. In India it is $369, in the United States (US) it is $192 and in China it is $628. Similarly, our farmers have less subsidy than other countries, which is an average of $27 per acre.

PM Khan said that ensuring food security, development of the agricultural sector and giving farmers their due right is the top priority of the incumbent regime.

He said that despite the importance of agriculture in the national economy, in the past the modernisation of this sector and the advancement of technology has been neglected which is affecting our farmers and the national economy.

PM Khan said that in view of the growing population of the country, rehabilitation and development of the agricultural sector is a national priority to meet the challenges of food security, reduce the cost of food imports and harness the potential of the sector.

The meeting was attended by the foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, economic affairs minister Khusro Bakhtiar, finance minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, national food security minister Syed Fakhr Imam, adviser to prime minister on institutional reforms and austerity Ishrat Hussain, Punjab chief minister (CM) Sardar Usman Bazdar, KP CM Mehmood Khan, special assistants Moeed Yousuf, Waqar Masood, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor Raza Baqir, Punjab and KP provincial ministers Makhdoom Hashim Javan Bakht, Muhammad Sabteen Khan, Hussain Jahanian Gardezi, Syed Samsam Hussain Bukhari, Sardar Hasnain Bahadur Dareshk, Timur Saleem Jhagra, Syed Muhammad Ishtiaq, representatives of private sector and senior officers of relevant departments were present.