FAISALABAD -  Chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Dr Yusuf Zafar here Saturday said that the country imports pulses worth billions of rupees that may be overcome by quality seed, promoting pulses cultivation and increased per acre production.

He was addressing international conference on the sustainable agriculture arranged by the US Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF). He said measures were being taken to increase pulses’ productivity as per domestic needs. He said the country was having surplus major crops including wheat rice, corn and sugarcane. But per acre production was very low compared to the rest of the world.

He stressed upon the need to promote crop management technologies with the joint efforts on the part of all stakeholders including researchers, public and private sector, government institutions and the farming community.

He said Pakistani farmers were facing various challenges including soil degradation, changing prices of inputs, lack of suitable agricultural machinery, imbalance use of fertilizer and burning of crop residues. He stressed the need to improve crop management to achieve better yields.

UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said by the 2050, the country population will double. He said it was a great challenge for the researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure the food amid the situation of climate changes.

He cautioned that agricultural land was squeezing and being converted into residential colonies. He said it was the time to work jointly for putting the deserted land into the agricultural productive land. He said the Punjab government was devising a new agricultural policy meant for addressing woos of farmers and making the sector self-sufficient and profitable.

Former Information Minister Nisar Memon, former Speaker National Assembly Dr Fakhar Imam, Dr Qamar-ur-Zaman from the Dalhousie University Canada and others also addressed the conference.

Meanwhile, Punjab government has extended date for submission of applications by farmers to avail interest-free loans. Executive District Officer Agriculture (Extension) Abdul Ghafoor Ghafari said in a statement on Saturday that farmers could submit their applications till December 15 to get interest-free loans.

They can submit their applications at the nearby land record centres from 1pm to 5pm on working days. They would be given Rs 25,000 per acre for Rabi crop and Rs 40,000 per acre for Kharif crop.