FAISALABAD - Punjab Agricultural Minister Ahmad Ali Aulakh on Monday called for stepping up efforts to persuade farming community for adopting modern practices to ensure food security.

He chaired a session of University of Agriculture Faisalabad 37th Senate Meeting. UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan also spoke on the occasion. Registrar Muhammad Hussain presented the agenda before the House and Treasure Muhammad Ashraf Mumtaz tabled the budget before the House.

The minister said that 33 million acres of agricultural land in Punjab out of 50 million acre was being cultivated. He said that lack of communication between experts and farmers was hampering the process of increasing per acre production. He said that the Punjab government was making all-out efforts to increase the per acre production that was the need of the hour. Talking about agricultural reforms, he said that the government had distributed 30,000 tractors among the farming community with the subsidy of Rs6 billion. He said that as a result of Punjab Wheat Competition, per acre wheat productivity had jacked up. The contest was meant to motivate the farming community to apply modern practices at their fields in the competitive atmosphere. The winner of the contest has produced 80 mounds of wheat from an acre that is a hallmark. He said that the provincial government had made heavy investment to improve Supply Change management and storage capacity to face up the challenges of modern world and reduce the post harvest losses.

Talking about educational reforms, he said that the Punjab government had provided scholarships worth Rs10 billion under the Punjab Educational Endowment Fund to support the talented and needy students. He said that launch of Daanish School, distribution of laptops and solar lamps would help the students to get the access to modern researches and knowledge.

In the welcome address, Dr Iqrar Ahmad praised the Punjab government for giving funds of Rs500 million over the five years to the varsity. It is for the first time that UAF got the funds from provincial government. He also added that the provincial government had approved the establishment of a sub-campus of UAF in Layyah with a special focus on the forest management.

He said that the Punjab government was also providing fund for the setting up of UAF sub-campus in Burewala to provide opportunity of quality education to the dwellers at their doorsteps. He said that the University research portfolio had gone up to 2 billion in a half decade that was 300 million in 2008.  He said that the UAF has worked on the agenda of 2030 vision to meet the needs of 30,000 students with quality education at the main campus.

On the occasion, the House elected Prof Masood Sadiq Butt and Dr Asghar Bajwa as members of syndicate for three years.

Higher Education Commission Adviser Dr Riaz Hussain Qureshi, Additional Secretary Finance Muhammad Arshad, Livestock Additional Secretary Mansoor Qadir, Agri Planning Additional Secretary Ahmad Ali Zafar, Prof Emeritus Dr Bashir Ahmad, Dr Khalid Mahmood Khan, MPA Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan and other notables attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, the UAF Senate approved the varsity's budget for 2012-13 with Rs772 million deficit. The session was chaired by Punjab Agricultural Minister Ahmad Ali Aulak. UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad presented the highlights of research and development activities of the university. The budget was tabled by Treasure Muhammad Ashraf Mumtaz.

The House was told that against the expected receipts of Rs1,752 million, the expenditure is estimated to stand at Rs2,524 million.