Multan - The Punjab government is going to spend over Rs24 billion on uplift of agriculture sector, disclosed Punjab Irrigation, Forestry and Agriculture Minister Ahmad Ali Aulakh. Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, he further revealed that a project worth Rs19 billion was being launched for laser levelling of agricultural lands, introduction of drip and sprinkle system and lining of water courses. He hoped that the initiatives being launched by the government would help stop water wastage and agriculture sector would benefit largely. Referring to other projects, he told the journalists that the Punjab Government would install processing plants at a cost of Rs4 billion to preserve fruits and vegetables. Out of this amount, Rs2 billion is being invested by a foreign company while rest of half amount will be provided by Punjab Government, he added. He told the journalists that the total volume of halal meat business in the world stood at $3 trillion and Pakistan had no share in this trade. Now we are going to adopt special measures to export halal meat as a latest automatic meat processing plant is being installed in Lahore, he disclosed. He added that more likewise plants would be installed in other cities later on. He said that the farmers of Punjab were given Rs4 billion subsidy that helped boost agriculture sector. This subsidy has caused considerable increase in per acre production, he claimed. Referring to cotton crop, he said that it was sowed on over 6 million acre land and Punjab expected to get 10 million bales this year. He said that the hectic efforts of agriculture department had started producing as the condition of the crop was comparatively better than the previous years. He regretted that Rs600 per bag increase in the rate of Urea fertilizer was a massive burden on farmers and federal government was responsible for this issue. He claimed that the federal government failed to improve production mechanism of fertilizer in view of demand and supply as a result of which provinces were faced with serious shortage of fertilizer. He said that the agriculture officers were given strict direction to ensure availability of fertilizer at control rate. He further asked the agriculture officers to launch a strict crackdown on dealers of fake fertilizer and pesticides. He disclosed that the Chief Minister had launched a Kitchen Gardening Programme to provide pesticide and fertilizer-free vegetables to the masses. He said that 1.75 lac packets of seeds would be distributed next month. Referring to research projects, he said that the provincial government had allocated Rs1 billion for different agricultural research projects and work on 53 projects was underway. Meanwhile, the minister took serious note of complaints of farmers and suspended DDO Agriculture. He also issued order for launching of inquiry.