Rs 663.9b agriculture-loans released, disbursements to reach Rs 800b by December end

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Minister for National Food Security and Research Tariq Bashir Cheema on Wednesday said agriculture loans worth Rs 663.9 billion were released during the month of November 2022 and it was expected that the loan disbursement would reach Rs 800 billion by the end of the current month (December).

Addressing a press conference, he said that the agriculture loan was the component of Prime Minister Kissan Package of Rs 1,819 billion to revive Pakistan’s agriculture sector, particularly restoring the agriculture of areas affected by catastrophic floods during monsoon season.

He said the package comprised 15 main points to restore and revive the agriculture sector in the country in order to ensure food safety and security in the country, adding that significant progress has been made in all the points.

The prime minister on October 31, 2022, he added, had announced the package and the cabinet accorded the approval to this effect on November 17.

Prime Minister was taking a keen interest and holding a fortnightly meeting in order to review the progress on the package, said Cheema.

Besides, the government has also announced to waive off markup for the farmers from the flood-hit areas, he said, adding that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has also issued a notification to this effect, and a 100 percent markup amounting to Rs10.62 billion would be waived off.

The government under Kissan Package has also earmarked an amount of Rs 8.2 billion for the provision of subsidized agricultural inputs and issued a notification on December 2022, which would help in providing inputs at controlled rates to boost per-acre crop output, he added.

Cheema further informed that for the first time in history, Prime Minister Youth Business and Agriculture Loan Scheme was introduced to engage youth in the agriculture sector to get maximum dividends for the young population, besides providing them employment opportunities in this sector.

He said despite the fiscal and financial crunch, the SBP has issued notifications of all the above-mentioned schemes, and prices of fertilizers were also brought down under markup and risk management scheme, adding that prices of DAP fertilizer came down from Rs 13,000 to Rs 9,000 per bag and sufficient quantity was also available for local farmers.

Besides, he added, Rs 30 billion was also allocated for the subsidy on imported urea and it would be provided in a transparent manner in collaboration with the provincial governments.

Under the package, an amount of Rs 4.787 billion comprising 75 percent of agro-based small and medium enterprises were also disbursed, besides the government has also initiated interest-free loan for landless farmers and the central bank has also issued a circular to commercial banks to disburse Rs 5 billion to all eligible farmers, he added. —APP