Islamabad - The Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan Friday assured farmers that the government would not allow import of fruits and vegetables from the neghbouring countries as long as local commodities are available in the market.

The minister was addressing the concluding ceremony of training course on Skill Development of Balochistan farmers at National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) here. "As long as your fruits and vegetables are available in the market, we will not allow import from our neghbouring countries," the assured the farmers. He said that the interest of farmers was our priority. He said the Irani apple was not now being imported through Baluchistan, rather it came through Turkham Border.

Highlighting the importance of water availability, the minister said that development of water reservoirs and dams in Baluchistan was need of the hour, however added that after the 18th amendment in the constitution, the resources have been shifted to the provincial governments, so they need to take measures to build such facilities.

The minister said that the federal government would definitely assist in building of dams, however it is duty of provincial governments to take initiatives in this direction. The federal minister said that the provinces had now adequate funds to build such facilities.

He said that the budget of his ministry has been reduced from Rs.32 billion to just Rs.1 billion after the 18th amendment.

He said that measures would be initiated to build tube-wells in the province to facilitate the farmers enhance their production. The Minister, while emphasizing the need for providing training to farmers said that the government aims to train as many as 1000 Baluchistan through the ongoing programme initiated by NARC.

He said that further 1000 farmers would be provided training through the same programme in the next phase. It is pertinent to mention here that NARC has trained as many as 331 farmers of Baluchistan out of the total 1000 targeted under its training programme.

Speaking on the occasion, Director General NARC, Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan said that the agriculture projects worth Rs.360 million were being carried out in Baluchistan province.

He said that planting olive on about 20, 000 hecrter land and cultivation of pistachio in Baluchistan was also on cards.

The event, among others, was attended by farmers of Balochistan and senior officials of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and NARC.