Planning, Development and Reforms and Statistics Division Minister Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar says special emphasis will be laid on developing and modernizing agriculture sector in the next five-year plan.

Chairing a consultative meeting on Agriculture Sector Development in Islamabad today (Tuesday), he said both short and long term strategies will be devised to enhance agriculture growth and its contribution to the country's GDP.

The Minister said that agriculture sector was neglected in the last plan and its growth remained dismal during the last five years which is evident from the fact that almost all targets in this area were missed. He underlined that the progress of agriculture sector provides a sound base for economic development and the present Government is paying special attention on agriculture development by focusing on improving its key sectors including livestock and fisheries.

He added that yield of major crops like cotton, wheat, sugarcane and rice will be enhanced by adopting best irrigation and farming practices, efficient water management and quality agriculture inputs. Livestock and fisheries sectors also offer great export potential that will be harnessed to boost the country’s exports, stated the Minister.

Khusro Bakhtyar noted that research and development and innovative farming practices remained the most neglected areas adding that special resources will be allocated for these purposes to uplift the agriculture sector. He said that PSDP will be reviewed in consultation with all the provincial governments with regard to irrigation and agriculture sector needs in order to boost agricultural productivity.

The Minister recalled that during the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China, an MoU was signed on 3rdNovember, 2018 in the field of agriculture to strengthen and promote technology transfer, trade facilitation, scientific and technical cooperation between the two countries.

The Minister said that first meeting of Joint Working Group on Agriculture will be convened next month to work out modalities and way forward to expand and broaden the scope of cooperation to the mutual benefit of Pakistan and China.

Khusro Bakhtyar said that development of agriculture sector will also help in poverty reduction as a large number of country’s population was linked to this key field. He underscored that focusing on socio-economic development of marginalized sections of the society was among top priorities of the present government.

During the meeting, proposal also came under discussion to do away with GIDC on fertilizers especially urea and to provide relief to farmers through provision of subsidy on agriculture inputs.