LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif yesterday announced setting up of Punjab Kissan Commission and a historic package of Rs 100 billion for the welfare and prosperity of farmers.

The package announced from the Punjab government funds to be spend over the next two years, also aims to enable the farmers increase per acre yield and contribute t to the development of agriculture.

The funds of Rs100 billion will be spent on the prosperity of farmers and promotion of agriculture during next two years. The Kissan Commission to immediately attend to the problems of farmers and help them keep pace with the world in terms of agri yield, will be chaired by the chief minister himself.

The Chief Minister made this announcement while addressing the opening session of Punjab Agriculture Conference 2016 at a local hotel, here yesterday. The conference primarily aimed at receiving proposals and suggestions from the farmers, experts, researchers and academia on how the dwindling state of the agri sector could be arrested and the province is once against put back on the status of raising the whole country with surplus produce. It was also noted at the conference that the Punjab once leading in the international market in cotton and rice how has come to lower to China and India. The conference discussed various suggestions and proposal in working group meetings to formulate precise agri policy for the province.

The chief minister said agriculture is the backbone of national economy in the real sense and promotion of agriculture, prosperity of farmers and increase in per acre yield is our mission. He said that Punjab government has taken a number of solid measures for the welfare and prosperity of the farmers and development of agriculture sector during last seven and a half years and will continue such steps in future as well.

“We have to march forward jointly for making farmers powerful and the province a home of grains and agriculture of the region,” he added.

Shehbaz said Pakistan is an agrarian country and its land is fertile, farmers are hardworking and there is a great potential of agriculture in it then what is the reason that we lagged behind in agriculture sector and failed to develop it in the real sense. He said that Pakistan was taking lead over India in the production of cotton and Pakistan has panoply in basmati rice market.

He said that Pakistan is the fourth milk producing country of the world and, perhaps, tenth big country with regard to livestock but now it is lagging behind. He said that tree plantation has become industry all over the world whereas forests are vanishing here.

He said that we have to find answer to these questions through this important conference. Shehbaz said that in 1998, his government completely eliminated spurious agri medicines but in 2008, when he again came into power, this heinous trade was continuing. He admitted that full attention was paid to the promotion of livestock during last seven and half years but desired results could not be achieved. “Our farmer is working day and night but there is no increase in per acre yield. Agriculture extension service has ended and research institutions are not doing that desired work due to which the process of giving advice to farmers has also been stopped.”

The chief minister said that agriculture and research development are integral part. He said that full attention has not been paid to agriculture research in universities and agriculture research institutions. He said that increase in per acre yield is not possible without transferring modern technology and results of agriculture to the farmers. He said that agriculture planners, government, agriculture research institutions and universities will have to work jointly.

Shehbaz said that Punjab government is fully aware of the problems being faced by the farmers and has also taken effective steps for ensuring due return to them of their produce.

He said that provision of agriculture implements at lower rates is also essential for the development of agriculture and prosperity of the farmers. He said that small farmers will have to be equipped with modern technology so that they could increase their production.

Mentioning the pace of work on the projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor, Shehbaz Sharif said that 36 billion dollars are being spent on energy projects out of 46 billion dollars investment of China. He said that the projects of thousands of megawatts will be completed by 2017-18 and electricity will be available at cheaper rates in abundance. He said that electricity is essential for making the lands of farmers green and the farmers benefit from cheap electricity.

Shehbaz said that immediately after the arrival of Chinese President, work was started on the projects under CPEC and this is first time in the history of Pakistan that work is continuing on the projects of billions of dollars speedily.

He said that these projects are being forwarded with transparency, hardworking and trust in Pakistan which is unprecedented. He said that the proposal of setting up of Punjab Agriculture Commodity Commission is a welcome step and it will be considered seriously.

The chief minister said in the first week of April, a strategy will be evolved in the light of proposals and recommendations of agri conference. He said that 100 billion rupees will be allocated for the prosperity of the farmers and development of agriculture in the Punjab budget but the benefit of this should go to the farmers and agriculture sector in the real sense and the farmers should be prosperous.

Provincial Minister for Agriculture Dr. Farrukh Javed, addressing the agri conference, threw light on the aims and objectives of the conference. He said that new policies will have to be formulated for the farmers keeping in view the changing weather condition and international slump.

Provincial Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah said that it is high time to take decisions for the promotion of agriculture and empowering farmers. MNA Awais Leghari and MPA Karam Elahi Bandial also addressed agriculture conference and threw light on the problems of the farmers and agriculture.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 20-Mar-2016 here.