The share of the agriculture sector in the annual budget of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has soared to 17 percent against a mere 0.80 percent before the coming into power of the ANP government in the province. This was stated by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Agriculture Arbab Ayub Jan while briefing media here on Tuesday.
Besides, Provincial Minister for Information, Mian Iftikhar Hussein, he was also flanked by Provincial Minister for Livestock and Co-operatives, Haji Hidayatullah Khan and senior officials of the department. Arbab Ayub Jan said that terrorism had rendered industry of the province closed and the only remaining potential sector is agriculture for generation of maximum job opportunities to overcome the grave problem of unemployment in the province. He said that the development of agriculture sector will provide base for the establishment of agro-based industries. He was of the view that agriculture sector is capable of overcoming 85 percent unemployment in the province.
He said that in 2008, the budget of the agriculture department was only 320 million and for the current financial year it had reached to Rs 2.20 billion. The provincial minister said that the elimination of unemployment will be made priority number of the future programme of their government. He said for this purpose, the provincial government is promoting hydel generation to supply cheap electricity to industrial units and irrigation to develop agriculture sector.
He, in this connection, mentioned the efforts of the provincial government for the construction of Cheshma Right Bank Lift Canal and completion of Gomal Zam Dam. He said that the completion of the two projects will help bring maximum land under cultivation in the province. He said that the government had made hectic efforts for irrigating 60 barren land of the province. He said that the provincial government had sought financial support of federal government in the construction of Cheshma Right Bank Lift Canal.
However, in case of decline the provincial government had already intended to initiate it under its own annual development programme (ADP). The second important project for irrigation purposes is the completion of Gomal Zam Dam. He said that though the project was even included in the ADP of the government formed after the elections of 1985, but the present government has given more priority to it. He said that the project is near completion, but an unfortunate incident had resulted in the suspension of work on it.
The completion of the project, he said will help irrigate about 0.2 million more agricultural land under cultivation. He reiterated that the ANP-led provincial government is giving priority to agriculture and hydel generation. He said that the construction of Cheshma Right Canal had ushered agriculture revolution and four sugar mills have been established in D I Khan.
The generation of employment opportunities had improved the standard of life and social-economic change. He said that the provincial government during last four-and-half-year had brought 3,500 acres more land under cultivation and for this purpose had purchased 24 bulldozers at the cost of Rs 300 million to accelerate the process of bringing more land under cultivation. He said that the provincial government is also working on the development of horticulture and is going to plant 5,000 date plants in Lakki, Tank and Karak districts.
Furthermore, he said that the launching of mechanised farming at the cost of Rs 500 million is another big step towards the development of agriculture sector. He said that under the project the use of modern machinery and equipment will be promoted in the province.
The provincial minister said before the present government, province was deficient in quality seeds of wheat. He said that when they took over they having only 200 tons of seed as compared to minimum demand of 4,000 tons. He said that in emergency situation, the province is required 10,000 seed. Arbab Ayub Jan said that during the period of two years they not only achieved the target, but also produced 4,000 certified and carried about 5,000 demonstrations and now the province is fully self-sufficient in the seed.
He said that for the development of agriculture sector, they were installing tube-wells, saying before ANP government the total number of installed tube-wells was merely 50 and selected a target of installation of 500 more. He said that agriculture tube-well had been made 50 percent subsidised. He said that the present government had so far installed 460 tube-wells and only 40 were remaining.