LAHORE     -    A four-member World Bank team on Friday visited Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). The team headed by Hans Johannes briefed LCCI President Almas Hyder about Strengthening Markets for Agriculture & Rural Transformation in Punjab (SMART) Programme aimed at increasing the productivity of crop and livestock. The other members include Senior Communications Officer Ms Flore Martinant de Preneuf, Communications Officer Ms Mehreen Saeed and Irfan Razzaq. LCCI President said that agriculture was a vital sector of Pakistan’s economy, contributing 18.5% in GDP and providing employment to 38.5% of total labor force. Growth rate of agriculture sector in 2018-19 was just 0.85%.  Further he said if Pakistan desire to achieve growth rate of 6-7% then growth of agriculture sector need to be enhanced, adding he said that there was no genetic modification program to develop livestock sector and Genetic improvement in livestock breeds is necessary to enhance the productivity of dairy sector. He said that agriculture marketing laws should be amended to enable big companies to procure agriculture commodities directly from the farmers rather than the middlemen. He said that agriculture sector should be governed by free market. The role of government should be restricted of being a regulator which would ensure food security and not the buyer and seller of commodities. He said that the export laws also needed to be relaxed. There should be a freedom to export the surplus commodities after catering to the local demand. The global buyers will then perceive Pakistan as an important agriculture market.  The LCCI President said that agriculture provides not only food but also cotton, sugarcane, rice, oil seeds, meat and milk to various agro-based, small scale and large scale industries as a raw material.