ISLAMABAD - The Prime Ministerial Committee on Agriculture (PMCA) met on Wednesday at the Economic Affairs Division and discussed budgetary allocations and ways to strengthen the Agriculture Policy Institute (API). Asad Umer, CEO of Engro Chemicals, chaired the meeting in the absence of Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar. Senior government officials, private sector leaders and leading agriculture business research institutions attended the meeting, which was the fourth since the committee was constituted. The Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) is the secretariat of the committee and has developed its structure, basing it on best practices used around the world. Chaudhry Asghar, chief of API gave a detailed presentation on the institute and pointed to its achievements while suggesting ways to make it a truly effective organisation by engaging qualified persons and international advisors. The committee agreed on having a strong and independent API that could provide policy to help the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Afaq Tiwana, CEO and Chairman of PARC Agrotech Company (PATCO) Ltd, spoke about marketing and processing infrastructure and highlighted the major findings and action points. The committee decided that Rs 7 million would be spent on preparation of PC-I and agreed on the involvement of PMCA from developing PC-1 to its implementation stage. On the recommendation of PMCA, Rs 37 billion was allocated in the budget for this marketing and storage project. Dr Zafar Altaf, Chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) in his presentation on cooperatives said that three new sites for milk cooperatives had been selected where 1000 small farmers dairy cooperatives will be formed which would see productivity increase of 25 percent. He also made a presentation on organic certifications, the processes and standards that were required in this regard. He said that there was a need for having a Pakistani institute for certification where international standards were followed. The committee agreed that this institute would finally be run by the private sector.