ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Food Security Fakhar Imam on Thursday reiterated provincial secretaries to devise an implementation mechanism for agriculture sector’s incentives announced in May to support farmers amid coronavirus crisis.
“The federation and the provinces will agree on a mechanism to provide each subsidy,” Imam said during a meeting on agricultural fiscal package with provincial agriculture secretaries.
The mode of implementation of the package was also discussed with provinces at the meeting. When the package was approved in May, the government had called for the implementation mechanism to be monitored to ensure that actual beneficiaries were genuine farmers.
Food minister said there are 8.2 million farmers in the country. “We want to give this financial package with transparency,” he said. “In the past, transparency was not taken care of in this regard.”
The federal minister praised Balochistan for growing organic cotton on 15,000 acres, which resulted in 22 bales per acre.
“The future belongs to organic agriculture,” he said.
“Our priority should be long term research and increasing the production of 5 major crops. Farmers will be empowered through fertiliser subsidy. We have to strengthen the agricultural base in the country.”
The meeting was told about a multi-billion agriculture package. As per the fiscal package, there is a subsidy on fertilisers, cotton seed and white fly pesticides, reduced bank markup on agricultural loans, in addition to sales tax subsidy on locally manufactured tractors. Under the agriculture package, subsidy to the tune of approximately Rs37 billion is offered to farmers on the purchase of fertilisers.
Similarly, under the agriculture package, diminution in markup of agriculture loans to farmers at the total cost of Rs8.8 billion and subsidy on cotton seed at a cost of Rs2.3 billion and white fly pesticides at Rs6 billion were approved. The package would also include Rs2.5 billion subsidy on sales tax on the locally-manufactured tractors for a period of one year. All banks, along with Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, in the scheme will enhance the outreach of farmers with focus on subsistence farmers with a land holding of 12.5 acres.
The agriculture package is part of the Rs100 billion earmarked out of the Rs1.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, for the small and medium enterprises and the agriculture sector.
The package was proposed by the ministry of national food security and research at a cost of Rs56.6 billion, but the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet asked the ministry to rationalise it as per its share in the overall package.