Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders on Sunday asked the government to promote edible oil sector to save import bill and empower farmers who are on the mercy of middlemen. Self-sufficiency in the edible oil production can help country save 2.5 billion dollars annually which need some steps, said Patron Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Shahid Rasheed Butt. Until 1960, Pakistan was self-reliant in edible oil production after which imports started due to exploitation of farmers and lack of interest on the part of authorities, he added. Shahid Rasheed Butt said that farmers of different oilseeds are at the mercy of middlemen which is the biggest reason behind reduced production and increasing imports. Government should take steps to increase the size of land under cultivation, announce support price and incentives, introduce latest varieties of seed and give preference to the coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan for cultivation. He called for enhanced research and development, subsidy on inputs, interest-free loans, gradual increase on duty of imports, employing better technology, improving capacity of grinding mills and empowering concerned institutions. Shahid Rasheed Butt said that primitive grinding process result in wastage of two lakh tonnes of cotton seed while 30,000 tonnes could be extracted from rice bran which is yet to gain proper attention.