ISLAMABAD -  The Credit Guarantee Scheme for Small and Marginalised Farmers has facilitated around 0.3 million farmer families under which a loan size up to Rs100,000 was provided.

The scheme, launched two years back, covers farmers having up to five acres irrigated and 10 acres non-irrigated land. Sources at National Food Security and Research Division while giving details on Sunday about agricultural incentives announced during last three years, said during 2016-17 subsidy of Rs27.96 billion was announced for providing subsidised fertiliser to be equally shared by federal and provincial governments.

The sources said it included a subsidy of Rs17.16 billion for Urea and Rs10.8 billion for DAP and other Phosphatic fertilisers. The Ministry only monitors availability of fertilisers at subsidised rates, therefore, prices of DAP fertiliser has been reduced from Rs3,200 per bag to Rs2,350 per bag whereas Urea has been decreased from Rs1800 to Rs1350 per bag. The provincial governments have been requested to provide requisite information.

Similarly, the sources said during 2015-16, a historic ‘Kissan’ Package was announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif which included a lot of agricultural incentives including Rs20 billion as subsidy for Phosphatic fertilisers (DAP, SSP, NPK etc) with 50 percent share by federal and the provincial governments.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research has devised a mechanism for ensuring that the benefit of Phosphatic fertilisers subsidy reaches its intended beneficiaries. During 2014-15, the government also introduced the crop loan insurance scheme for farmers with land holdings of 12.5 acres in order to cover risk to various crops.

The other incentives were reduction in Sales Taxes on Tractors from 16-10 percent and credit to agriculture increased from a targeted Rs315 billion to Rs380 billion. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) decided to enhance overall credit to Rs500 billion for year 2014-15.

The sources said the government also decided to provide 50 percent air freight subsidy for horticulture produce from Gilgit-Baltistan. Answering a question about steps taken to improve rice exports, the sources said long grain rice variety "PS-2" has been developed by Rice Research Institute (RRI) Kala Shah Kaku to attract international buyers while for general cultivation, Basmati rice varieties including Punjab Basmati, Kisan Basmati and Chenab Basmati have been released.

The state of art quality analytical facilities at National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) were also provided. On directives of the Punjab chief minister, a Pakistani delegation visited Iran last year to finalise modalities for revival of rice exports to Iran.