MULTAN-Parliamentary secretary for agriculture Rana Ijaz Noon said that the country was faced with serious water scarcity thus the construction of Kalabagh Dam had become necessary for preserving water and generate electricity.

Addressing the seminar organized to make the farming community aware of a programme, he said that increase in agricultural inputs and decrease in crop prices in international market badly hit local farmer. He said that the weather changes affected entire world. “We’re devising our future policies in view of environmental changes,” he added. Former speaker of National Assembly Syed Fakhar Imam told a seminar that the local farmers suffered Rs22 billion loss due to low rate of cotton last year, and urged the government to announce the support prices of crops so that the crop targets could be achieved. He said that the national economy was dependent on cotton and therefore this crop needed more attention than any other thing. He pointed out that over 54 per cent national exports were either direct or indirect products of cotton. He said that South Punjab and Balochistan were future of Pakistan due to their agriculture and natural resources respectively.

Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture (MNSUA) Dr Asif Ali has said that the farmers will get multiple and direct benefits worth over Rs163 billion per year from Khadim-e-Punjab Zarai Khushhali Programme.

He added that the Chief Minister had announced Rs. 100 billion package for the farmers in view of poor farming conditions and it would help lift the agriculture sector. He added that another programme to give interest-free loans to the farmers worth Rs. 13 billion had also been launched which would give benefit to 450000 farmers of the province. He said that the farmers would get Rs. 25000 per acre loan for Rabi crop and Rs. 40000 per acre Kharif. He said that the farmers would be given smart phones to keep the aware of news on weather changes and latest agricultural news. He said that Rs. 9.49 billion had been allocated for fertilizer subsidy while Rs. 3 billion for supply of quality seed to the farmers. He hoped that one million farmers would get benefit of these schemes. He said that a number of other projects including establishment of agricultural commission were being launched for the welfare of farmers. DG Agriculture (Extension) Dr. Anjum Ali, DG (Field) Dr Qurban Ali, Cotton Commissioner Dr Abdullah and others also spoke on the occasion.