‘Rs 300b interest free loans to be given to farmers’

LAHORE   -   Secretary Agriculture south Punjab Saqib Ateel said that interest free loans worth Rs 300 billion would be given to farmers in order to enhance agricultural productivity. He said this in the “Meet the Press” event of the local Press Club, here on Monday.  The secretary agriculture south Punjab stated that overall Rs 400 billion would be spent under the Transforming Agriculture Punjab project. The loans will be given with collaboration of Bank of the Punjab, he informed. About 0.5 million farmers will obtain these loans, he hinted. He also maintained that 7,000 tubewells would be energized through the solar system. Huge amounts will also be spent on brick-lining of the 7300 water courses. Similarly, services of the 500 agri-graduates will be hired for promotion of the agriculture sector, said Saqib.

In order to promote research, funds to the tune of Rs 2.5 billions have also been earmarked.

Responding to a query, he stated that local farmers were spending huge amounts on inputs. However, sometimes, they did not know about the accurate use of inputs. He also shared his experience in introducing Integrated Pest Management Model.

He added that IPM was a highly successful model in terms of control on pests and lowering input cost. To a query about export of Mangoes, he stated that the exporters should follow international guidelines. He directed them to export mangoes after hot water treatment and following special instructions for international trade.

About sowing of cotton, he stated that over six million acre land was untapped in Cholistan. There is a need to work on it.  

Our cultivation system is an outdated, he said, adding that there was need to improve it as per modern trends, said Saqib.

The secretary agriculture informed that hard crust of soil was also a big hurdle in low productivity and increase in high cost on inputs. The government is working on restoration of fertility of soil by creating awareness amongst farmers.  

To a question about climate change impact on agriculture, he stated that there had been an increase in temperature and the trend was causing uncertainty. Sometimes the fluctuation in climate change benefits the crops and sometimes it causes damages, he stated.

Responding to a query, he stated that there had been an increase of average six maund in wheat crop. In Past, the average per acre wheat was nearly 32 maund per acre and now it jumped to 38 maund per acre, he claimed.

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