FAISALABAD - State Minister for Textile and Commerce Haji Muhammad Akram Ansari has said that the government is taking solid steps to provide maximum incentives to farmers besides solving their genuine problems on priority basis.

He was addressing a ceremony organised by the Agriculture Department at Ayub Agriculture Research Institute (AARI) here Saturday for distributing agricultural gadgets as prizes among farmers who got top positions in various competitions of cotton, rice, maize, potato, mango, kinnow (orange) and guava production in districts Faisalabad, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh and Chiniot.

The minister said that Pakistan is an agrarian country and its economy was directly or indirectly based on agriculture productivity. Therefore, the PML-N government had set its priorities to improve the agriculture sector on most modern scientific lines by introducing new technologies in it.

He said that the government had earmarked billions of rupees to provide interest-free loans to farmers and efforts were under way to increase the amount to facilitate maximum number of growers.

He said that the government was also planning to formulate new cotton policy under which maximum incentives would be provided to the cotton growers.

After the 18th Amendment, the agriculture sector went under the control of provincial governments and Chief Minister Punjab is paying special attention to promotion of the sector by arranging healthy competitions in it, he added.

The state minister, however, stressed the need for the best quality cotton and asked scientists and research institutions to step forward and introduce long staple cotton seeds having better production and maximum disease resistance qualities.

He said that the government had successfully overcome the menace of terrorism and load-shedding and now it is striving to construct dams so that water related problems could be resolved.

Director General (DG) Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (AARI) Dr Abid Mehmood said that technology plays an imperative role in increasing agri production. Therefore, Pakistani farmers should adopt new technologies to increase their production.

Director Agriculture (Extension) Faisalabad Chaudhary Abdul Hameed said that competitions were held in production of 7 crops including cotton, rice, maize, potato, mango, Kinno (orange) and guava and three to five acres area of each farmer was selected for competition.

Vice Chancellor University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) Prof Dr Iqbal Zafar and other agriculture officers were also present in the ceremony.