ISLAMABAD - Minister for Finance Rana Afzal has said that Pakistan has great potential to increase its exports of halal food and agricultural products.

Addressing a workshop on the theme: “Emerging Issues, challenges and Opportunities in Rural Economy of Pakistan”, organised by Centre For Rural Economy (CRE), Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms here on Tuesday, he said it was time that the rural and agriculture economy attains the level of growth it deserves.

Rana Afzal pointed out that the CPEC projects have also opened a new window of opportunity for the growth and development of agricultural sector as the country could export large quantity of food products and earn precious foreign exchange. He said that it is high time that the provincial governments ponder over the possibility of having their own Agriculture Development Banks.

He said the federal government over the last four years has disbursed significant amounts of agricultural credit to farmers as it extends due importance to development of agriculture sector. The government is further trying to enhance financial and technical assistance to the farmers’ community, he added.

Minister of state for finance said that there is also a need to impart training to women to contribute towards strengthening of economy. The present PML-N government has indeed provided opportunities to womenfolk to come forward and play their due role in the process of development. He talked about importance of forestry in addressing environmental issues and also highlighted the economic opportunities it carries for farmers. He said he was pleased to avail the opportunity to participate in a thought provoking discussion on such a significant subject.

Earlier, addressing the inaugural session, Sartaj Aziz, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission said a lot is needed to be done in the realm of rural transformation. He stressed on adoption of fast track of rural transformation.

Speakers including, Ms Genevieve, Policy Consultant, UN-FAO, Dr Rashid Bajwa, CEO National Rural Support Program (NRSP) and Yasir Ashfaq, CEO Pakistan Micro Finance Investment Company (PMIC) shared their views with the audience from different government and private sector organisations.