MULTAN - Punjab Agriculture and Livestock Minister Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh declared on Thursday that the provincial government had allocated Rs92 billion for wheat procurement and it would lift even the last grain of wheat from the farmers.

Addressing a news conference here at Circuit House, he further revealed that 17 new varieties of cotton were being introduced very soon. “It shall help boost cotton production in the province,” he hoped.

Referring to gunny bags distribution, he claimed that 50 per cent of gunny bags had been distributed among the farmers. He suggested to the wheat growers to be patient and contact procurement centres for getting gunny bags.

He hurled a warning to the coordinators appointed at all wheat procurement centres, saying they would be responsible for transparent distribution of jute bags. He added that no negligence or complaint would be tolerated and any one found guilty of any irregularity in jute bag distribution would be punished strictly.

He told the journalists that the government had deployed entire state machinery on wheat procurement operation with a view to facilitating the farmers. He said that he would personally visit procurement centres and listen to the problems of growers. He directed public representatives to make all out efforts to make procurement campaign successful.

He lashed out at federal government and said that it subjected Punjab to step-motherly treatment on the issue of gas and electricity supply. He said that the fertilizer companies were ready to cut the prices of fertilizer if federal government ensured uninterrupted gas supply. He lamented that the federal government imported urea at the rate of Rs. 1300 per bag instead of offering relaxation to fertilizer industry. “It is tantamount to crushing poor farmers,” he added. To a query, he said that scarcity of irrigation water left adverse impacts on crops while on the other hand Punjab government could not export its wheat because of comparatively low prices in international market. “This situation multiplied our problem,” he added.

Earlier, reviewing the situation of livestock in the province, the minister said that an emergency vaccination and fumigation drive was launched in South Punjab after death of a citizen because of Congo Virus.

He said that 22 special teams were formed that would carry out this campaign in South Punjab. He dispelled the impressed that there was a Congo epidemic in South Punjab. He said that the owners of cattle sheds needed to keep their outlets clean. He disclosed that the vaccination of all animals would be completed before flood season.