Agriculture transformation plan to bring paradigm shift: Cheema

ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema Wednesday said that unlike in past when production of grains remained major priority, the incumbent government intended to bring about a paradigm shift to transform agriculture sector.
He said the government is focusing on horticulture produce as was done by countries having more population compared to agricultural land.
Pakistan has over 220 million acres of cultivable land and out of the total only 55 million is cultivated, he said adding that government will bring all the gray land into cultivation and produce high value crops, SAPM said while briefing the media about Agricultural Transformation Plan, which would be launched on Thursday.
He said the transformation plan, envisaged to protect growers, consumers and local industry by introducing the latest intervention for achieving sustainable agriculture development and reducing reliance on imported food items.
Cheema said that America has low population as compared to land and they produced grains instead of other crops meanwhile China, Turkey and Iran has low land as compared to their respective population and there is low production of grains as compared to other crops and fruits.
The SAPM said that government is adopting Chinese model of agriculture and focus on cultivating vegetables, fruits, beans, potatoes and also cultivate tea in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan regions to promote production of high value crops instead of producing conventional crops.
The government, he said is also intended to turn these gray land into green by bringing the maximum land under cultivation of different staple food crops and fruit orchards in a bid to generate more income for the farm communities to improve their standards of living and alleviate poverty from the rural areas of the country .
In this regard, he said that agriculture land mapping had been completed in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and identified areas for production of different high value crops, livestock, fruits and vegetables.
He said that the government would not leave any land unattended and all this would be utilized for agriculture, food production, and develop forests.
Jamshed Iqbal said that under the Agriculture transformation plan government would ensure to adopt best water management technologies to conserve water, adding that work was in progress to develop small, medium and large water storage facilities, besides building dams.
Highlighting achievements of the current government, he informed that water conservation was on the top in government’s agriculture reforms agenda, adding that so far 735 small and medium size dams were being constructed in Balochistan that would help to bring more areas under crops production, especially to produce seeds of different crops.
The SAPM said agriculture sector development was the topmost priority of the current government and it had allocated abundant resource Rs62 billion for the development of the sector in the current budget, which was stood at only Rs1.6 billion in the financial year 2017-18.
SAPM said that under the transformation program, the government was intended to discourage supply of adulterated milk, honey and strict measures would be put in place to overcome the issues of adulteration and supply of unhygienic milk and honey that were harming both the producer and consumers.
In this regard milk testing mobile labs would be introduced to ensure strict quality compliance, he added.

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