“A presentation on agriculture and food security policy will be given to the premier in two weeks’ time and afterward it will be made public,” Bosan said while talking to newsmen at the sidelines of a seminar on ‘how business can transform Pakistan’s agriculture’ organised by the Pakistan Agricultural Council at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
Bosan declined to highlight any salient feature of the proposed draft, however, said that problems being faced by the agriculture and related sectors have been identified in this document and possible solutions have also been recommended. He said in Pakistan 90 percent growers are of small landholding and this policy is aimed at to support them in not only producing more but also to work for their own prosperity and strengthening of national economy.
The Minister agreed with another observation that the agriculture sector especially small growers needed subsidy. He said we always compare our agriculture sector with India but forget the fact that how much that country is subsidising its farmers enabling them to export potatoes or tomatoes. He said that the present government is keen to provide level playing field to its growers.
Regarding compensation to growers who had suffered due to recent floods, the Minister said provincial governments are in the process of compiling data of damages caused to the rural economy in shape of destruction of crops, loss of livestock or else. He said once this data is ready then it will be deliberated at highest level and a policy will be announced to compensate the affected ones.
Earlier addressing the seminar, the Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan said present government is seriously working to meet out the cyber age challenges and it can be gauged by its manifesto which promises to turn agriculture into a fully viable economic industry by changing the policy framework and terms of trade.
He said present government while assigning high priority to corporate agriculture to play its due role in agricultural business development also not to forget well-being of small farmers. ‘The government has a plan to introduce a sustainable agricultural credit system to ensure that a substantial amount out of the total portfolio is earmarked for small farmers,’ he added.
Development of livestock, self-sufficiency in oil seeds and enhanced efforts in the areas of fisheries and horticulture would be salient characteristics of the coming agriculture policy, he added. Moreover, he stressed on revamping the role of private sector through incentives and enabling environment as Government would work as its facilitator rather than a stumbling block. He concluded his speech by emphasising the significance of food security which is as necessary as national security and appreciated the organisers for arranging the seminar.
Pro-Chancellor LUMS Syed Baber Ali speaking on this occasion said Pakistan has tremendous potential in developing agriculture sector and small farmers are backbone of this sector. He appreciated the setting of Pakistan Agricultural Council (PAC) and asked that its members should not do anything themselves for this sector rather enable the growers and other stakeholders to get maximum out of the present resources. He said three years back he had told the Chief Minister Punjab to bring research, education and extension services on one page to get more out of the agricultural sector.
He said that the PAC should identify the problems and roadblocks. He said that soil does not cheat if provided right seed, right technology and right inputs. He said at the same time Pakistan’s horticulture sector should also not be ignored where we have unlimited opportunities of growth. He said it is the job of the people at PAC to enable the growers to produce three times more than what they are producing now. He said that collective efforts and role by private sector can transform the agriculture in three years’ time.
The seminar was also addressed by Sohail Malik-an eminent International agro-researcher and notable person from agriculture sector during different sessions. This seminar was aimed at launching of the Pakistan Agricultural Council (PAC) which according to its objective will be working to establish institutions such as an agriculture policy and advocacy think tank in partnership with an existing university to develop policies that encourage globally competitive and quality focused agriculture, implementation plans for such policies and advocacy to policy makers and the public regarding a shift in policies. It will also be working for setting up a center of academic excellence in partnership with an existing university programme which has both short-term diploma courses as well as degree programmes to produce graduates with skills required by agriculture-related employers as well as vocational trainers who can provide extension services to farmers.