‘Punjab provided Rs45bn interest-free loans to farmers’

Provincial agriculture minister says farmers provided Rs 4.4 billion subsidy for supply of seeds and machinery

Punjab Agriculture Minister Syed Hussain Jahanian Gardezi has claimed that the Punjab government provided interest-free loans amounting to Rs 45 billion to the farmer community in three years.

While addressing a conference on food security on Wednesday, the agriculture minister said that the government was working hard to ensure food security and increase production per acre.

“We provided a subsidy of Rs. 4.40 billion to farmers for the supply of certified seeds and modern agricultural machinery,” he added.

The minister said the government has taken effective measures to ensure better prices of agricultural commodities to the farmers.

Moreover, he said, “Last year, a support price of Rs 1,800 per 40kg for wheat and Rs 200 per 40 kg for sugarcane had been ensured. The process of registration of 146 new markets has been completed under Punjab Agricultural Marketing Regulatory Authority (PAMRA) with the purpose to increase the income and profit of farmers. Additionally, farmer platforms have been set up in 105 agricultural markets of the province.”

According to the official data, Pakistan is the 10th largest country in the world in terms of food production while it is the sixth-largest country in the world in terms of growing population.

Increasing agricultural production per acre to meet the nutritional needs of a growing population is a matter of urgency.

The minister further said that food growth in Pakistan was 1.5 percent per annum and there was a dire need to increase it. Water scarcity in Pakistan also led to a decline in crop yield per acre, he added.

To meet the challenges, the agriculture minister said, the government had provided a modern drip sprinkler system at a cost of Rs 3.62 billion and installed solar systems in different areas at a cost of over Rs 429 million on 50 percent subsidy.