Modern ‘tech’ farms to encourage export agriculture

The federal government has revealed their plan to revolutionize the country’s agricultural sector through the creation of more than 500, state of the art, technology based farms under the novel Precision Agriculture project.

Speaking to media, Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that the agriculture sector is considered the backbone of Pakistan’s agrarian economy, and has the potential to contribute an even bigger share to the country’s Gross Development Product (GDP) if effective and modern technology is used on farms.

Therefore, his ministry is endeavoring to introduce modern technology for improving agriculture practices and boost the production level of different crops which would boost economy as well as make the farmers prosperous.

“Under the project of Precision Agriculture, farms from 2-12.5 acres would be given technology packages including drones, water censors, pesticides censors, packaging facility, seed selection facility and more,” said Fawad. “In our country, the maximum production at even 12.5 acres land is not sufficient for our farmer to bear expenses. Compare this with China, where farmers get optimum production at one acre land through tech-based agricultural practices which lasts them the whole year.”

He was of the view that laser leveling of fields could maximize productivity of irrigation water at the farm level. This would help produce more crop per drop through optimal use of water and non-water inputs.

The federal minister in his tweet said this year, Faisalabad Agricultural University has received 50 per cent more admissions applications than last year. The interest in admissions has also increased in other agricultural universities.

“The interest of youth in agriculture is a very welcome indicator. It will change Pakistan’s agriculture field,” he said. “The second part of this project is to develop corporate livestock farms for the farmers. Pakistan Halal Authority has been created which would ensure quality of meat and Islamic way of sacrificing animals.”

Punjab, centre rift emerges over wheat procurement

The Punjab government on Friday disagreed with the federal government on the proposal to procure wheat through the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) at Rs1,900 per 40kg.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had directed the TCP last month to import 0.2m metric tonnes of wheat for procurement by the Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) and directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research and Economic Affairs Division to get endorsement from provinces.

Punjab government has insisted on the procurement of imported wheat at the control rate of Rs1,400 per 40kg.

However, the Ministry of Finance did not agree with the proposal and viewed that the province either bear the entire cost of the TCP or allow the Finance Division to make at-source deduction. ECC discussed in detail the need to import wheat in adequate quantity through public and private sector as per the country’s requirement and maintain sufficient strategic wheat reserves. It was decided that the TCP will import wheat in adequate quantities from time to time to cater for the national requirement at a reasonable price.

ECC approved import of 1 metric ton of wheat through private sector by waiving off all duties and taxes. ECC asked provincial governments to exempt the imported wheat from the anti-hoarding act and waiver off provincial taxes on wheat imports. Consequently, in line with the ECC decision to allow public sector to participate, a summary was moved to the cabinet for import of 1.5m metric tons of wheat through the TCP with exemption of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Rules, 2004 and all duties and taxes of the federal government.