Punjab Agriculture Minister Farrukh Javed on Wednesday called for joint efforts on the part of scientists, stakeholders, workers and the government in order to address the problems of the farmers.

He was chairing 41st senate meeting of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad at the New Senate Hall. Terming the agriculture sector, a lifeline for the development of country, he said that the government was setting up a think-tank on agriculture in a bid to cope with challenges being confronted by the sector. He said, “We cannot survive without agriculture as it is provides raw materials for all the sectors. It is a matter of concern that the farmers are unhappy owing to low productivity, rising cost of production etc which are compelling them to change the occupation. In this regard, collaborated efforts are needed to come up with solutions to their problems.”

He said that climate changes, low productivity and imbalance use of inputs were posing the serious threats to agriculture. He said the government was making an all-out effort to solve the problems of farming community by providing funds. The government had kicked off numerous initiatives including rural roads (farms to markets), he said.

He congratulated the UAF for emerging as an educational institution ranked among the top 100 universities of the world. He said that the government was taking tangible steps to address the electricity crisis.

UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said the university research portfolio has crossed three billion rupees. The UAF was meant for the food security and rural development. He added that education was the only tool that could bring prosperity and development.

He lauded the steps being taken by the government for the cause of education. He added that the government had earmarked Rs71 billion for education in the budget whereas it was Rs48 billion last year and the increase would bring tangible results to fight the different challenges and alleviate poverty.

He thanked the Punjab government for provision of record funds to the UAF in the last couple year to strengthen its infrastructure and other faculties that include hostels for women and 500 foreign scholarships. He said that UAF was enjoying the good relations with many countries. He said that USAID funded Centre for Advanced Studies in Food Security and Agriculture had started functioning.

Under the CAS, 100 faculty members of the UAF will go to University of California, USA for capacity building. He said last year, the UAF had recruited 130 teaching staff to narrow down the teacher-student ratio that was standing at 1 to 30. He also said that Chinese Confucius Culture Centre had also been set up at the campus to provide the facility to the students.

Registrar Hussain led the academic procession and conducted the proceedings. The senate also approved UAF budget worth Rs5,078.013 million for the financial year 2015-16. The budget was presented by Treasurer Umar Saeed. The non-development budget is Rs 3,573.9 million whereas the development budget (federal government funded) stands at Rs 923.871 million and Development budget (Punjab Government funded ) Rs 551.106 million. The budget for Water Management Research Centre is Rs 29.219.

Talking to the media during his visit to modern Cotton Ginning and Pressing Factory in District Lodhran, Javed said that the Chinese investment in a remote area like Lodhran will help reduce unemployment in the area and promote cotton industry.

He said that in Southern Punjab, the plant was equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. He added that soon Chinese Company will establish more such plants in southern Punjab to eliminate the sense of deprive from this area.

Cotton Ginning Factory International Private Limited Chairman Lee thanked Government of Punjab and said that they have been successful in completing the project. Next month, the factory will start working, he added. By installing the plants with modern technology, quality of cotton will be improved and farmers can also get better earning for their product, he said.