ISLAMABAD - Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan Thursday said that National Food Security Council , to be headed by the prime minister, was being set up to further boost the agriculture sector.

Speaking at the APP Forum here, he said that the federal minister for national food security and research, besides the four chief ministers would be its members.

The council would help resolve issues related to agriculture sector emerging between the federation and the provinces after the 18th constitutional amendment.

The minister informed that national food security policy was being finalised and would be announced after complete consensus.

"We have uploaded it on official website of the ministry for comments and suggestion of the members of the parliament and other stakeholders before its final approval," he added.

Sikandar Bosan said Ministry of National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) would present the Plant Breeders Rights Bill during the upcoming session of the National Assembly, which would revolutionalise the agriculture sector within three years.

The minister said the protection of breeders rights would build up confidence of local as well as foreign breeders and attract investment to this particular sector.

So within three years, "you may see a revolution in agriculture sector," the federal minister asserted.

He said it was due to his personal efforts that Seed Amendment Bill was passed by the Parliament during this year.

He said he had initiated this bill during 2003 and this dream was materialised after the passage of 12 years.

Admitting that certified seed was one of the major problems the farmers had been facing, Bosan said that the passage of such bills was aimed at ensuring the availability of certified seed to boost healthy food production.

To another query, he said despite the challenges of high costs of production, Pakistan had been competing its neighbouring countries in production of per acre yield.

He said new technologies and techniques were transferred to the farmers to further boost production adding that the agricultural scientists were vigorously working to enhance productivity.

Bosan said due to decline in commodity prices in the international market, the country's farmers were facing problems, which resulted in sluggish agriculture growth. Therefore, the government announced Kissan Relief Package to provide relief to small farmers.

He said although the previous governments increased support prices of the commodities specially wheat but on the other side it also increased the duties and taxes on agriculture inputs including fertilizers and pesticides.

"In order to support the farmers, the government decided to provide relief particularly to the small farmers and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a Rs 341 billion ‘Kisan Relief Package’," he added.

He said the relief was a short term measure for preparing the farmers to cultivate next crop.

The minister said under the package, the rice and cotton growers having 12.5 acres or less land would be provided Rs 5,000 per acre each cash support.

He said the current government had tried its best to reduce the input cost by relieving duties on pesticides and fertilizer and under the package a huge amount had also been allocated to provide subsidy on main agriculture inputs.

He said in the country 97 percent of agriculture land was owned by the small farmers out of which 52 percent were those who had less than 12.5 acres of land.

Bosan said "Our farmers are very hardworking that is why they have survived the crisis and now with the announcement of Kissan Package, whose implementation has been started throughout the country, the farmers would get a good relief".

He said livestock sector consists of 54 percent of the total agriculture sector but this sector has not been given due attention.

To a question, he said solar tubewells were a blessings for the farmers as they would be able to save money, but on the other hand there was also a fear of wastage of precious water.

"I have proposed that the solar tubewells should be allowed in the areas near to a river, or where the latest irrigation technology like drip irrigation is being used," he added.

He said the government is providing Rs 60,000 per acre subsidy for using drip irrigation technology for those farmers who owned less than 12.5 acres of land.

To another question, he said the government was also taking special measures for the uplift of farmers of Balochistan and Kissan Package was also being fully implemented in the province.