ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has said that the present government attaches high priority to rural economy and wellbeing of people and is committed to ensure food security in the country.This was stated by him during a briefing by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) at the Prime Minister’s House here on Friday afternoon.The Prime Minister said that a special Ministry of National Food Security and Research was created to coordinate with the provinces as well as international organisations to achieve synergy needed to ensure food security and growth in the agriculture sector. He directed the Ministry to present a comprehensive national food security policy for the approval of the Cabinet with the objective that agriculture produce in Pakistan not only meets domestic requirements but also generates surpluses for exports.The Prime Minister said, “it is unfortunate that despite abundant natural resources our per acre yield is very low”. “No country could progress without research and emphasised the need to intensify research work on prominent crops like wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane and pulses so that their yield could be increased”, said the Prime Minister. In this connection, he also sensitised the Ministry to take necessary steps to encourage appropriate technology to minimise post harvest losses.The Prime Minister said that there should be an effective mechanism to educate farmers and the industry so that agriculture sector could get maximum benefits. In this connection, he directed the Ministry to work on a plan to increase edible oil production so that the country can save foreign exchange on its imports.The Prime Minister said that farmer-friendly policies of the government have enabled the country to not only become self-sufficient in wheat but also joined the club of wheat exporting countries. The government is committed to extend all possible support to maintain this momentum, he added.The meeting was informed that government has wheat stocks of 8.41 million tons and is planning to export one million tons from its stock. Rice production is expected at 6.16 million tons, which shows an improvement of 28 per cent against the last year. Sugarcane production is estimated at 59.5 million tons as compared to 55.3 million tons last year. Cotton production is expected to be around 13.6 million bales.The meeting was briefed about the various departments working under the Ministry for promoting agriculture and research in the country.Those who attended the meeting included Amin Fahim, Minister for Commerce, Israr Ullah Khan Zehri, Minister for National Food Security and Research, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Finance, Moazzam Ali Khan Jatoi, Minister of State for National Food Security and Research and other senior officials.