Investment plan: Rs82b for improving crop yields, water efficiency

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PHOTO: AFP
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ISLAMABAD:  The government has launched a Rs82-billion investment programme designed to enhance crop productivity, undertake livestock and fisheries development projects and improve irrigation water efficiency.

The programme is based on five presentations given to Prime Minister Imran Khan by the task force on agriculture.

Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan told media on Wednesday that the targets set were achievable and all-out efforts would be made to meet the goals.

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He said Rs4 billion would be invested in promoting mechanised farming and small farmers would be given 50% subsidy on the purchase of crop-specific machinery. Subsidy will also be provided for introducing high-yielding seed varieties and increase in the supply of certified seeds.

The minister revealed that the government would engage international experts in a bid to establish new research institutes and upgrading existing ones.

Another Rs8.6 billion will be spent on the promotion of shrimp farming and trout farming in northern areas.

A huge Rs68.6 billion will go towards improving water course lining, enhancing the command area of small and mini-dams in arid areas and water conservation in rain-fed areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Also Read: Meeting with PM: Telecom operator cherishes investment in Pakistan

“This will save nine million acre feet of water for irrigation; at present about 47 million acre feet of water is lost during supply through canals, distributaries and watercourses,” the minister said.

The prime minister also approved a project for small and medium-scale livestock farmers which included a buffalo calf fattening programme, a backyard poultry programme and promotion of small and medium-sized dairy farms.

The backyard poultry programme will be launched in 36 districts of the country, which will not only reduce stunting and improve nutrition but will also reduce poverty at the local level. A similar programme has already been launched in Punjab.

As the foot and mouth disease is the major hurdle in the way of meat exports from Pakistan, the government will launch a mega project with the help of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations at a cost of Rs763 million.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China are Pakistan’s big markets but to explore more markets, the project will help turn infected areas disease-free within one year. “Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalnagar and Bahawalpur will soon be declared disease-free zones,” the minister announced.

(This news/article originally appeared in The Express Tribune on December 6th, 2018)

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