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Pakistan Agriculture Developments

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Upcoming hybrid wheat to cool down flour price

By Gwadar Pro
Jan 8, 2021

PESHAWAR, it was reported that the price of wheat in the open market has again reached its highest, which was a cause of great concerns. In the second half of 2020, Pakistan imported more than 2 million tons of wheat, yet still not effective in alleviating the wheat shortage.

Beijing hybrid wheat, developed for improving Pakistan domestic wheat yield and quality and imported under CPEC agriculture cooperation, was expected as an effective solution for flour price hikes.

In order to achieve high yields in Pakistan, Beijing hybrid wheat has been fully seasoned to Pakistan's arid and hot climate for the past 11 years of experimentation.

According to experimental data this year, compared with the best local varieties in Pakistan, planted on the same acreage, Beijing hybrid wheat harvested 120% of the crop using only 10% of seeds. Meanwhile, its nutrition and taste can meet the needs of Pakistani people, and the texture of flour is very suitable for Nam and Chapati.

Affected by the pandemic, Chinese expert teams cannot reach the experimental field, therefore, Pakistani farmers have taken care of the crops independently. Zhang said, “The Pakistani personnel are experienced and all of them are professional and technical staff. We have been working together for four years and they have done very well. In addition, Beijing hybrid wheat is easy to cultivate, each Pakistani farmer can take care of it well through training and learning.”

“Since 2012 Pakistan started to import Beijing hybrid wheat, the increase rate of production has exceeded 50%, and the yield has reached 6,000 kg per hectare,” Zhang said. Wheat’s cultivated acreage is about 8.6 million hectares in Pakistan and accounts for 44% of the country's total arable land.

Once Beijing hybrid wheat is popularized and marketized, the flour shortage in Pakistan will be alleviated.
 

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China helps Pakistan for safe Cherries export as Islamabad prepares to send first batch to Beijing

By Gwadar Pro
Jan 4, 2021
by Shafqat Ali


ISLAMABAD, Jan. 4 (Gwadar Pro)-China is helping Pakistan for safe and protected export of the delicate cherries to the Iron Brother as Islamabad prepares to send the first batch to Beijing this spring, a senior cabinet member said.

Until now Pakistani cherry export had been hindered as Pakistan lacked cold chain management, market information system, packaging and processing facilities.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razaq Dawood told Gwadar Pro that China was providing the technical help for secure delivery of the delicious fruit.

Technical help has been offered to Pakistan to improve the country's cold-chain management, market information system, packaging and processing facilities. Trainings on Pakistani technicians from related fields have also been carried out.

“China is helping us now. We are also working on our own. We will send the first batch of Cherries to China in spring,” he said, adding Pakistani mangoes were also very popular in China.

Grown in the Pakistani northern areas, the fruit is one of the most loved worldwide. With the arrival of summers, trees spread over 300 acres of land in Swat and Gilgit are ready with the fruit to be plucked out, packed and sent out.

According to farmers, more trees need to be cultivated in the area to meet the high demand. They have demanded the government to provide them funds and facilities to increase production.

Another area where cherries are grown is the Balochistan province. The fruit possesses several health benefits. Cherries grown in Pakistan are also exported but the fruit gets damaged on its way. The country’s export of cherries could get sweet boost from ever-growing Chinese demand for the exotic fruit.

In a separate interaction with the journalists, Dawood expressed satisfaction with the export but admitted that much more needs to be done.

Dawood paid tributes to Pakistan’s exporters for their performance during testing times and urged them to aggressively focus on capturing a larger share of international exports. He said that exporters were Pakistan’s asset and he valued them greatly.
 

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PM asks Punjab govt to facilitate farmers

January 16, 2021

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has termed agriculture “the most important sector” for the country’s future and asked the Punjab government to “remove all hurdles for facilitating farmers”.

Briefing the media after Mr Khan’s visit to the city on Friday, Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said the prime minister recalled that Punjab used to provide food to 70 per cent of the country’s population but had regrettably fallen back due to a lack of research and technology.

“This is why the agriculture sector is first priority of the government for the future development of the country,” she quoted the PM as saying.

Terms agriculture most important sector for country’s future

The ministers concerned briefed the prime minister on their performance in the last 30 months and the PM assigned them targets for the second half of the term with timelines. Stressing the need to bring rural and urban areas on the same level of development, the PM asked the ministers to prepare strategies for tripling agri-produce on a war footing.

The prime minister was told that the province had sufficient stocks of wheat and the provincial authorities were moving against sugar hoarders on an effective and fast-track basis.

The prime minister directed the provincial government not to spare hoarders and stockists and make sure they did not succeed in punishing the common man. He also appreciated the strategy against hoarders.

According to the special assistant, the industry has started responding to government’s initiatives and the cycle has started. During the last two years, the government has ensured that instead of swelling pockets of “inspectors” in the industry, the national exchequer should be benefited.

According to the special assistant, Pakistani products are being recognised the world over and exports are on the rise.

Earlier, chairing a meeting on reforms and performance of police, the prime minister stressed the use of modern technology to control crimes and directed Inspector General Inam Ghani, who briefed him on reform, to utilise all resources to protect the life and property of citizens.

Mr Khan regretted that political appointments were made in the police during previous regimes, which adversely affected the performance of the department.

“No one is above the law and police personnel should not succumb to any influence or pressure. Police on the basis of equality and law would lead to satisfaction of citizens,” the PM said and asked the IGP Punjab to focus on improving the image of his department.”

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2021
 

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Aloe Vera

🌱
This common plant is as nutritional and medical importance that the whole book can be written on it, it is the most used in cosmetics worldwide.

Once you put it in a gamla, it never ends, it grows too much. Domestic atmosphere is counted in the first row among plants that keep clean.

1 Alvera the tiny dough plants in the bottom of the large plant are transferred to other gumps.
2 This plant grows in reasonable amount of water, moderate temperature and sunlight.
3 Apply the plant in a better drainage of water. The water should not stay away.
4 3 After moving new plant. Don't water for 4 days. Until new plant catches its roots.
5 To keep the plant on the bottom of the soil, if you want, put pebbles.
7 In the summer season, only when you give water when the upper bottom of the soil is dry. Whether it is given once a day or once in two to three days.
8 Give water just once a week in winter season.
9 It is not difficult even if you add fertilizer just once a year or never.
10 If you are separating the plant thinking it has taken up a lot of space now, let the plant fill it's full. Don't separate the tiny plants from it before it.
11 To separate the small plant, it should be at least three inches height.


🌱
🚫
🌱


Caution :-

1 Protect from the high sunshine.
2 Avoid extreme heat.
3 Do not give too much water.
4 Excessive heat and heat will burn the plant. If the leaves start falling yellow, move the plant to shade.
5 Press only the roots in the soil while planting. If the green part or leaf is pressed in the soil, it is afraid of rotting.
6 If the leaves are thin and twisted, increase the amount of water a bit.
7 If the leaves are scattered far away. In a ruined shape and falling yellow, then stop watering for a week and cut the yellow leaves with a knife, otherwise the rest of the plant will also be damaged. ۔



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PM promises special package for farmers


The Newspaper'
January 25, 2021




Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Sunday the government would announce a special package for farmers “very soon” as a sub-committee of the cabinet was formulating proposals on the subject. — Photo courtesy Imran Khan/Facebook


Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Sunday the government would announce a special package for farmers “very soon” as a sub-committee of the cabinet was formulating proposals on the subject. — Photo courtesy Imran Khan/Facebook

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Sunday the government would announce a special package for farmers “very soon” as a sub-committee of the cabinet was formulating proposals on the subject.

In a meeting with the members of National Assembly from South Punjab, he said the previous governments ignored south Punjab and discriminated against the people of the region with regard to provision of education and health and employment opportunities.

The meeting, which focused on the south Punjab secretariat and special package for farmers, was attended by Special Assistant to the PM on Political Affairs Malik Amir Dogar and MNAs Aurangzeb Khan Khichi and Nur Mohammad Khan Bhabha.
Mr Khichi presented a proposal for establishment of a cadet college in Vehari.

During a meeting with MNAs Salim Rehman and Bashir Khan from Swat and Dir, the prime minister was briefed on employment opportunities for the locals during the construction of dams in Dir.
The prime minister was also apprised of public issues and efforts for their resolution, besides progress on education and health projects in Swat.


Smuggling

PM Khan was informed that smuggling of petroleum products, food items and other products causes a revenue loss of $3.4 billion to the government every year.

An insider told Dawn that the prime minister was given a briefing on smuggling of oil and essential items in a meeting held a couple of days ago.

According to official estimates, the annual quantum of smuggling is about $7bn. “Because smuggling is outside of the government’s tax net, it is causing a loss of about $3.4bn in revenues to the country,” the meeting was told.

The prime minister while chairing the meeting discussed the way forward to curb the menace and was informed that oil smuggling alone was inflicting an annual loss of around Rs100bn to Rs150bn to the government.

Mr Khan directed the relevant authorities to take strict action against those involved in smuggling and said his government was the first one which had approved national anti-smuggling and border management strategies, strengthened human resources of the Customs to improve its capacity to check smuggling, established special anti-smuggling units to man the long and porous Pak-Afghan border and Model Customs Collectorate (Preventive) in Quetta.

The prime minister was quoted as saying during the meeting: “Smuggling is not confined to petroleum products but our markets are flooded with all sorts of smuggled goods that has dealt a major blow to our local industries. The smuggling of food items out of country also poses a threat to our food security.”
“When smuggling overtakes a functioning economy, it creates instability, discourages business and investments from coming into the area and most of smuggling profits also go back to the crime syndicate to fund more illegal activity. This creates a rise in crime and can affect tourism, among other things,” the prime minister said.

He said the government’s anti-smuggling efforts were heading in the right direction and would go a long way in further stabilising the economy. “It is our commitment to significantly bolster the country’s tax collection to take forward the country on the path of sustainable development and checking smuggling will definitely give impetus to our efforts towards that direction, including documenting the economy and bringing more people to the tax net,” he added.

The prime minister said tightening the noose around the smugglers would help revive the local industries which earlier had become dysfunctional due to availability of cheap smuggled goods. “Promotion of local industries will not only further enhance the country’s exports but also create enormous job opportunities for the youth,” he hoped.


Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021
 

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Pakistan mulls peaceful use of drone tech


Technology would help in research in various fields including research and rescue operations


Rizwan Ghilzai
January 25, 2021

the operator of a drone can control five of them at the same time without actually being on the field photo app file



The operator of a drone can control five of them at the same time without actually being on the field.


ISLAMABAD: In order to improve the performance and boost the capabilities, Pakistan mulls over the Drone Regulatory Authority (DRA) for peaceful and effective use of remote-control surveillance technology in various fields.

The DRA would allow the drone technology to be used for different purposes such as research in different fields, assist in restoration of peace, search and rescue operations and logistics and agriculture.

On Monday, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Hussain Chaudhry called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and gave a detailed briefing about the drone technology ordinance.

The minister noted that the initiative would help the government in performing its tasks efficiently and ease its workings in different areas.

The decision to form the DRA was taken by the federal government last year.

Chairing a high-level meeting, the premier observed that drone technology would be helpful in agriculture, urban planning, security and law & order.

He had directed the authorities concerned to set up a committee to devise a legislative and regulatory body in this regard.

On September 28, the government had prepared a draft policy for the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) – drones, model aircrafts, quadcopters and balloons – and asked all stakeholders to give their input on the proposed draft in two weeks.

Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that after incorporating the stakeholders’ input, the draft policy would be presented before the federal cabinet for its approval.

The policy covered various uses of such aircraft for entertainment, research, sports, photography and media coverage, industrial, agricultural and other purposes.

The UAV is an aircraft without a human pilot on board and a type of unmanned vehicle. The flight of the UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy, either under remote control by a human operator, autonomously by onboard computers or piloted by an autonomous robot.

Meanwhile, the premier on Monday directed the authorities concerned to broaden the scope of their operation against the land mafia in the country.

“PML-N has always provided patronage to the occupiers of government lands,” the premier said while presiding over a meeting of the government officials.

“No one can occupy government land without political patronage,” he added.

In what appeared to be a reference to the demolition of “illegal construction” at PML-N MPA Saiful Malook Khokhar's house a day earlier, PM Imran noted that attempts to reclaim government land were also "surprisingly being termed as political revenge".

On the foreign funding case, the premier stated that “those who trapped us in the foreign funding case are now trapped in it themselves.”

He observed that the government’s position in the election commission proved to be correct and sought a transparent and fair investigation into the Broadsheet matter.

“We will expose everyone who caused loss to the national exchequer,” he said, adding that the opposition was under illusion that they would be able to hide the facts through “propaganda”.
 

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Pakistan set to break record for Kinnow .

Known as the Mandarin Hybrid fruit that delivers a flavor akin to none, markets such as Russia, Iran, and other Central Asian countries look forward to buying the fruit every year. Only last year, Pakistan earned its highest export revenue of $222 million from exports amounting to 370,000 tonnes of Kinnow.

As per reports, Pakistan’s total trade volume for Kinnow sits at Rs. 125 billion. Among major harvesting units, Faisalabad and Sargodha account for the majority of Kinnow yield, amassing 80% of total production in Pakistan last year.

On average, Pakistan exports 3 to 4 lac tonnes of Kinnow every year. Central Asian countries such as Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are some of the main export destinations for the fruit, with Russia being the biggest buyer in the export markets
 

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Women in Sindh win historic recognition to manage water


Despite being a major part of Sindh's agricultural force, women farmers were kept excluded from water management for years.

Manoj Genani
22 Jan, 2021


This week, a landmark amendment passed by the Sindh province’s legislative assembly recognised — for the first time — the role of women farmers in water management. The Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Bill, 2018 now guarantees women’s representation in around 45,000 water course associations, over 350 farmer organisations, and 14 area water boards in the province. It has been a long battle to create an historic change.

Dhani Bux, a farmer and advocate for efficient water management in his district Badin, was one of many men demanding a share of water in the ‘tail-end areas’ of the Sindh province. For the last decade, Bux and his fellow farmers have faced a serious scarcity of water that has turned their fertile lands in Badin and Thatta barren and spurred mass migration. He is the leader of the District Badin Alliance, formed after legislation titled the ‘Sindh Water Management Ordinance’ (SWMO) was passed in 2002 which required that farmers’ organisations be formed at each distributary for the equitable distribution of water.


A view of Akram wah canal which supplies irrigation water to Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan and Badin tail areas. — Photo by Manoj Genani


A view of Akram wah canal which supplies irrigation water to Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan and Badin tail areas. — Photo by Manoj Genani

Unfortunately, there was no specific provision or requirement for women farmers, therefore women were kept out of this important fight. “Unfortunately, I was not part of the farmers’ organisation that decides the distribution of water resources,” Farzana (who uses one name) told The Third Pole. From the village of Qasim Solangi, she rears cattle, takes part in several agricultural activities, brings water home and does housework.

Farzana added, “If women are given a chance in water resource management, we know the lands more than men, and can decide what suitable measures should be taken.”


Rizwana Solangi, a farmer, in her village Qasim Solangi, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani



Rizwana Solangi, a farmer, in her village Qasim Solangi, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani

Women farmers in rural Sindh are a significant part of the agricultural workforce. In 2015, an FAO study in Pakistan reported that women’s role in agriculture increased during the last two decades, as many men migrated from Sindh’s rural areas to urban centres to improve their income possibilities and to avoid exploitation from local landlords.

“Such conditions have given rural women an active role in on-farm and off-farm activities and has also increased their work burden and responsibilities. Women in Sindh are involved in crop production from sowing to harvesting stages, rural women in agriculture, they should be recognized as women farmers rather than sharecroppers or helpers. Women in rural Sindh work on average for 12-14 hours a day,” the report said.

Water scarcity is a huge problem for the farmers in rural Sindh. 77% of these, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, are women.


Women from the Hindu minority community bringing grasses from the farms to their home, Qasim Solangi, Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani


Women from the Hindu minority community bringing grasses from the farms to their home, Qasim Solangi, Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani

The water network which consists of three barrages, 14 main canals and about 40,000 field outlets is a key pillar of the rural economy. This massive and cohesive system of canals, outlets and distributaries has been the lifeline of the people here for the last century. However, for the last few years, due to theft and the usage of water by big landowners for their own orchards, the tail-end areas have been largely deprived.

And while men like Bux fight this “political influence and monopoly of big landowners” whom he said “have axed the fair distribution of water”, women are excluded from these platforms even though they are stakeholders very much affected by irrigation policies, laws and distribution of water.

Activist Abida Samoo highlighted the challenge women face. “In rural areas, women do a lot of work in the agricultural field — more than men — from sowing seeds to harvesting,” he said. “Unfortunately, they don’t have a stake in water distribution, even though a woman can efficiently use water once she gets involved.”



Landless women farmers collecting rice straw from field areas, near village Khan Muhammad Panhwar, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani


Landless women farmers collecting rice straw from field areas, near village Khan Muhammad Panhwar, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani

Without a clear role in water governance, women and landless peasants are less involved in water conservation.


Fighting for recognition


A legislator in the Sindh province, Rana Ansar, had had enough.

“I also belong to a farming family. Years ago, when we faced a water crisis, I took a stand and raised my voice. But I was told to ‘stay away’ because women don’t have any power in the farmer organisations or in the area water boards,” said Ansar, who proposed an amendment bill in 2018 that covers the role of women in water management.
After a three-year struggle, on January 12, 2021, the amendment taken up by MPA Ansar was passed by the Assembly.


The amendments are:
  • An amendment to Section 30 that includes “Two prominent women of the AWB command area from a strong farming background in irrigated agriculture and water, preferably a member of Board of Management of any FO”
  • An amendment to Section 42 that includes: “Two women [should be] of the FO command area having strong farming background in irrigated agriculture and water, provided that one-woman member shall be landless”
  • In section 56, subsection (1) “In addition to elected members of WCA, the Board of WCA shall consist of two women members preferably sharecroppers of the same water course, where the WCA is formed”
  • An amendment to Section 70 that includes: “Two women members, one shall be prominent woman activist/ Lawyer/journalist and one shall be prominent woman agriculturist.


The amendment has met with support from many quarters. Genevieve Hussain, a Policy Officer at the FAO, said this recognition is hugely important. Amjad Baloch, the regional coordinator of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, told a local paper that, prior to this, women were not part of any structure. “Now after the passage of the amendment, women will get representation in around 45,000 water course associations (WCAs), over 350 farmer organisations (FOs), and 14 area water boards (AWBs),” Baloch said. “It helps in mainstreaming women in water resource management and irrigation structures in the province.”


A farmer from one of minority communities called Baghri, harvesting rice crops from village Qasim Solangi, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani



A farmer from one of minority communities called Baghri, harvesting rice crops from village Qasim Solangi, district Hyderabad. — Photo by Manoj Genani


Most importantly women farmers like Khatijan Ghirano, who owns 6 acres of land, were elated. “Women can save more than men as we know very well the agricultural land and the issues related to water, water courses and distributaries,” she said “Once we are part of the farmers’ organisation, we will find a way to solve these issues.”
 

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FFC plans to set up new DAP plant

Zafar Bhutta
January 29, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC) is planning to set up new DAP plant on concessionary rates in a bid to boost local production to meet shortfall.

FFC is a sister company of Fauji Fertilizer Bin Qasim Limited that is producing DAP locally.

In this regard, the Fauji group approached the Petroleum Division seeking government commitment of 30mmcfd natural gas at a concessionary rate of $0.77 per mmbtu for the first 10 years as it planned to set up a new DAP production plan for a total of 20 years under the Fertilizer Policy 2001.

The Fauji Group is currently involved in manufacturing urea and DAP fertiliser. It produced three million tons of urea in 2020 and 750,000 tons of DAP. Fauji Group is the only DAP manufacturer in Pakistan and the country meets its rest of the demand through imports.

The current demand for DAP in the country stands at 2.2 million tons of which 800,000 tons is met through domestic production and the rest is fulfilled through imports. Pakistan's annual import bill due to these imports stands at $570 million at the current DAP price of $410 per ton.

By using 30mmcfd, Fauji Group will be able to produce approximately one million tons of DAP that would result in significant decline in the country's import bill.

After commissioning of the new DAP plant majority of the demand will be met through domestic production and only Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) would be allowed to import the shortfall to maintain stability in prices and provide relief to farmers as in the case of urea.

DAP prices soared to Rs4,550 per bag from Rs3,500 per bag in the domestic market due to shortfall during the wheat sowing season in the wake of lower imports by traders amid the lockdown when prices were at historic lows. Meanwhile, global prices are rising due to short availability of product as production in China has declined due to coronavirus induced lockdowns.

Pakistan normally imports majority of its DAP shortfall requirement from China but this time companies are importing the expensive product from Gulf suppliers due to short availability of products internationally. One of Pakistan's largest DAP traders; Engro Fertilizer Limited, recently imported 33,000 tons of DAP from Saudi Arabia.

The Petroleum Division has submitted the company's proposal regarding setting up a new DAP plant to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). The concessionary tariff of $0.70 per mmbtu is currently being availed by Fatima Fertilizer and Engro Fertilizer Limited.

The Petroleum Division said that FFC wanted the same tariff for the new plant that Fatima Fertilizer and Engro were availing.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2021.
 

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Kuwait to Invest in Agriculture in Pakistan

On Thursday, the Kuwaiti government expressed interest in helping Pakistan to improve its agricultural sector and participate in the country’s mega-development projects.

Ali Sulaiman Al-Saeed, Assistant Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs, Kuwait and Nasar Abdul Rahman Jasser Almutairi, Ambassador of Kuwait to Pakistan, called on Atif Bokhari, Chairman of Board of Investment.
Ali Sulaiman said that at several levels, both nations share a close and historic relationship.

There is more space for bilateral enhancement of trade and investment opportunities. He showed an interest in the agricultural and labour sectors. “We are able to develop infrastructure and we have the capacity
 

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Meeting considers lifting moribund farm sector

Officials say agriculture not growing to its potential; PM forms panel for reforms


Our Correspondent
February 09, 2021



ISLAMABAD: The share of the agriculture sector in Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is lesser than its actual potential and the country grows lesser quantities of wheat, rice, corn, cotton and sugarcane when compared with other countries of the region in terms of per acre yield.

However, the contribution of the agriculture sector in the GDP can be increased from the existing $49 billion to $74 billion by 2031 by adopting an effective strategy and giving financial and technical assistance to the farmers, officials told Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday.

The prime minister was chairing a high level meeting held to propose reforms to revive and rejuvenate the agriculture sector in the country.

A number of officials including the foreign minister, finance minister, food security minister, economic affairs minister as well as Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) chief ministers attended the meeting.

The participants were told that the agriculture sector contributed $49 billion to the national economy in 2020. This amount included $31 billion contributed by the livestock sector; $1billion by the fisheries sector and $17billion contributed by crops.

In 2000, the agriculture sector contributed $20billion to the economy with the livestock and crops each contributing $10 billion. This shows that in the past 20 years, the sector has not grown to its potential.

Giving a breakup of the crop yield, the officials told the meeting that the average per acre yield of wheat is 29 maund; rice 40 maund; corn 57 maund; cotton 18 maund and sugarcane 796 maund.

This yield is significantly less than the neighboring India where the average per acre yield of wheat is 45 maund; rice 80 maund; corn 80 maund; cotton 35 maund and sugarcane 950 maund.

Speaking on the occasion, PM Imran Khan said ensuring food security, promoting agriculture sector and helping farmers to get fair return of their product are the foremost priority of his government.

“Despite its importance in the national economy, development of the agriculture sector along the modern lines and promotion of technology have been neglected in the past, resulting in a crisis,” he added.

He said in order to tackle the challenges of food security in view of growing population, there is a need to reduce the expenditures of food imports and utilizing the potential of the sector. The meeting decided to constitute a high-level committee to be led by the PM for the promotion of the agriculture sector.

The committee comprising representatives of federal and provincial governments, private sector and experts will finalize and present the Agricultural Transformation Plan to the prime minister so as to ensure its implantation on priority basis.

Separately, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser handed over a comprehensive and integrated structural reforms oriented agricultural growth strategy for the next seven years to Minister for National Food Security Fakhar Imam and a sub-committee of the cabinet on agriculture.

He said the overarching objective of the strategy is to achieve agriculture growth rate of 7.5% by 2027-28 led and sustained by producer-owned integrated market-based value chains and climate-smart production technologies, expansion of cultivated land area and value added activities.

The speaker added that the overarching goal of the proposed strategy is to boost agricultural exports, accelerate rural-development driven economic growth, reduce rural poverty, enhance financial and gender inclusion in the agricultural sector.

“The proposed model envisions a pro-poor growth strategy focusing on transformation of the business model of the 7.4 million smallholder farmers who cultivate 48% of the total cultivable land.

“The weak business model of the smallholder farmers comprising low bargaining power, low access to finance, low yields, fragmented market segment, lack of access to competitive markets and high production cost has hindered the modernization of the agriculture sector,” he added.
 

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1 billion saplings to be planted by mid-2021: PM’s aide

February 10, 2021


The government will successfully achieve its target of planting one billion saplings by the middle of this year, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said. — APP/File


The government will successfully achieve its target of planting one billion saplings by the middle of this year, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said. — APP



ISLAMABAD: The government will successfully achieve its target of planting one billion saplings by the middle of this year, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said on Tuesday while addressing participants of a press conference.

“The biggest weapon to tackle challenges of climate change is the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami initiative. As we restore destroyed forests, in the first phase the plan is to plant 3.2 billion saplings till 2023. We call it the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami because the present government is here to stay. We are on target so far.

Numbers of saplings in nurseries across the country have gone from 90 million to 300 million,” he said, adding the first phase of plantation will be completed by June/July 2021.

Pakistan has been listed among the top ten countries, most vulnerable to impacts of climate change since the last two decades. This issue must be addressed urgently for the survival of future generations as it affects economy, water resources, national security and so on.

“Scientific study shows that average temperature in Pakistan has risen by 1°C. This may seem less but the rise can be disastrous especially for agriculture and the economy. The variability of rains has increased by 20pc. This means the timing of rainy seasons have shifted, while summers have extended. Every year an extra day is added to the summer season,” he said.
 

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Punjab irrigation minister reveals PTI govt's agricultural reforms


February 17, 2021



Punjab Irrigation Minister Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari (L) and Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan (R) address a press conference in Lahore, Pakistan, February 16, 2021.



LAHORE: The PTI regime set up a water policy right after it came into power back in 2018, Punjab Irrigation Minister Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari said Tuesday while speaking about the government's agricultural reforms alongside Punjab chief minister's aide on information, Dr Firdous Asiq Awan.

The rules of usage and distribution of water — including irrigation, agriculture, drinking water, and industrial use — were laid down under the new water policy, Leghari said.


He explained that there were two kinds of reforms — brick-and-mortar efforts and policy initiatives — that led to long-term impacts for a department to operate better and eliminate its deficiencies and shortcomings.

"The PTI introduced the Punjab Water Act, 2019, and no other province has such a law. We also set up a body in collaboration with the Punjab Khal Panchayat Authority, under which farmers and cultivators will be taken on board for input and suggestions on running the affairs of river streams.

"We also created a policy — which is in its approval stages — for the modification of command areas. For example, Lahore's Defence Housing Authority (DHA) area is agricultural land but there's a colony built there now. So we can now transfer the water to newer areas as the old law didn't have space for this," he said.


The 'reward and punishment' concept


The Punjab minister underlined that the PTI regime has been addressing the damages due to settlements near rivers and the water streams changing their courses, so it should be "according to policy and standards and "not on whims".

Leghari underscored that the Canal & Drainage Act, 1873, was not in line with the demands of 2021, so the government had rewritten it and would introduce it very soon. "It's in the vetting stage right now," he said.

He noted that the green belts on the side of canals and rivers had been cut down and ignored over time, which was why the PTI regime would bring a policy to fix it.

"We can form partnerships with the neighbouring feudal and landlords as they will be our partners in profits and losses. They can take care and regrow the trees; that will help strengthen the embankments and bolster greenery.

"There's also an issue of a lack of performance measurement. Over time, everyone gets promoted. We're introducing a performance evaluation system for that.

Developed countries and successful companies reward those who perform well and question those who don't," he said, adding that the new performance-based system will have targets related to command areas for employees which will work in line with the 'reward and punishment' concept.


Digitisation of abiana

The minister explained that another initiative, the digitisation of the abiana, or irrigated water tax collection, in its final stages and being introduced in four zones. "It will be similar to the electricity and telephone bills," he said.


"At the moment, a landlord pays and gets a katchi parchi [unofficial receipt] so there are no records with us [the department] or them. Our system would bring an improvement in bookkeeping and adjustment to the inefficiencies of collection."

Leghari further underlined that the Punjab government would introduce a system for contractors to eliminate pooling related to the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules. The bidding, he added, would be done through software.
"Top officers are always working on postings and transfers so the newly-transferred ones do not get the time to understand the canals and then leave soon.


"Canals and rivers are like living organisms and each has different behaviours and circumstances. We're now bringing an automatic, system-generated transfer policy under which officers would work on everything, including the canal tail, barrage, drainage, and the small dams, as well as in offices so that they can be groomed on how the system works.

"Moreover, we will be installing a real-time water-flow monitoring system. This has already done on main barrages and will slowly be brought to the distribution system as well," the minister concluded.



PTI govt 'guardian of the farmer's rights'

During the press briefing, Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan spoke about how the ruling PTI would be working for the prosperity of Pakistan's farmers.

The PTI government "is the guardian of the farmer's rights", Dr Awan said. "It's not just the water running through rivers but also the blood of our farmers and smallholders that run Pakistan's economy and provide it oxygen through agricultural output."

The CM's aide said the provincial irrigation minister took revolutionary measures in line with his duties.

"[During the tenure] of previous governments, the most important sector — agriculture — was ignored, which not only hurt the smallholders and farmers but also the barren land," she said. "As a result, the agricultural output turned out to be discouraging, with no prosperity for the farmers along with a dearth of digital technology."

Awan put the responsibility behind the lack of focus on the agriculture sector on the Sharif clan, saying that the "royal family made Jati Umrah its centre of attention".

The family, she added, deemed "the Jati Umrah state as the entire Pakistan or Punjab". However, she also spoke of the PTI regime's aims and efforts for the agricultural sector.


The government would provide prosperity to the farmers, ensure water supply to the final stage, and turn barren farmlands into fertile ones for the oppressed farmers under the Leghari's leadership and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar's direction and vision — which is its "goal, obligation, and responsibility", she added.
 

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