PRIME Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday directed the authorities concerned to formulate an emergency agricultural reforms plan to facilitate the farmers and uplift the sector.
Chairing a high-level meeting, the PM said he would announce a comprehensive agricultural reforms plan very soon to achieve prosperity for the farmers, enhance agricultural production and reduce the input prices.
We have had numerous agricultural policies and reforms during the last more than seven decades but unfortunately these had limited impact in terms of exploiting the full potential for agriculture development.
And it is because of the lip-service to the cause of agriculture that a pre-dominant agricultural country has become an importer of even basic commodities like wheat, sugar, cotton, pulses and edible oil.
The causes inhibiting growth of the agriculture sector are fully known and these have once again been highlighted by the sub-committees formed by the Government to study the situation and come out with its recommendations.
Recommendations have been presented on the yield of wheat, cotton and edible oil, provision of modern machinery on reduced rates, subsidy on urea and DAP, expected production and import, quality seeds, better utility of water and timely provision of loans to the farmers.
The recommendations presented to the Prime Minister included both short and long-term plans and Shehbaz Sharif resolved that the government would provide facilities to the farmers on an emergency basis including low-cost seed and fertilizers.
The most agitating issue, these days, is ever increasing cost of inputs because of the inflationary policies of Government and it has to be seen how the authorities concerned succeed in bringing down the cost of production when it has become a fashion to oppose subsidies.
The direction of Prime Minister for measures to enhance per acre yield before cotton sowing season and ensure the provision of subsidy to the farmers on the agriculture inputs is timely and if implemented in letter and in spirit would help increase cotton production with salutary impact on textile exports.
Introduction of quality seeds and a crackdown on substandard pesticides have much to do with increasing per acre yield substantially and in this regard cooperation of China should be sought on a priority basis.
As part of long-term policy, work on all feasible mega water reservoirs as well as medium and small dams should be undertaken with due earnest in close coordination of the provinces.