AGRICULTURE NEWS

SMART AGRI-MARKETS PROGRAMME EXPECTED TO BE EXTENDED

The World Bank has expressed satisfaction over the progress on its Strengthening Markets for Agriculture and Rural Transformation (SMART) programme in Punjab and proposed to extend its scope and completion period by two years. In a mid-term review meeting of the SMART programme, presided over by Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, concerns and recommendations to amend some targets of the programme were discussed. The GoP has been working on the capacity building of agricultural markets and implementation of the rural development programme on collaboration with World bank for the last five years under SMART. On the occasion, Bakht directed the Planning and Development Board secretary to review the indicators related to payments under the SMART programme. He directed to submit a plan with realistic achievable goals and releasing funds for the achievable targets to improve the performance and avoid further delay in programme due to the lack of funds. He mentioned that the Punjab government is moving towards targeted subsidies to increase purchasing power of the low-income people. In the agriculture sector, increasing wheat output and reducing flour price was the top priority of the provincial government. Stressing the need for proper planning for reforms in the wheat market, he highlighted that reasonable estimates were also sought for the provision of additional funds from the agriculture department. The meeting discussed the proposal to use the Bank of Punjab scheme for providing incentives to farmers. The meeting was attended by Punjab Irrigation Minister Muhammad Mohsin Leghari, Punjab Minister for Livestock Hasnain Bahadur Dareshak, Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal, Finance Secretary Iftikhar Ali Sahoo, Planning and Development Secretary Mujahid Sher Dil and other secretaries.