ISLAMABAD : Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Wednesday called upon the government to consider providing relief package to agriculture sector in a bid to reduce its input cost and improve its productivity, which will contribute positively towards reviving the economy.

President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Muzammil Hussain Sabri said that Pakistan’s economy heavily depended on agriculture sector as it accounted for 21 percent of country’s GDP, more than 43 percent of employment and 45 percent of total exports,according to press release issued by ICCI. He said the sector was facing multiple problems including high input costs, low per acre yield, outdated cultivation methods and government should come up with an attractive relief package for this important sector of the economy, especially keeping in view the hefty reduction in oil prices.

He said despite possessing enough water resources, Pakistan was losing around 13 million cusecs of water every year from its rivers into the sea due to lack of sufficient water reservoirs and dams to store water and government should formulate a comprehensive plan for establishing enough water storage facilities in the country.

Sabri said the old methods of flood irrigation still in vogue in the country were causing 50 to 60 percent wastage of water and government should focus on introducing drip irrigation system in the country to maximize water utility as this new system not only saves enough water, it also gives proper quantity of water according to needs of plants and improves yield as well.

Muzammil Sabri said the traditional methods of cultivation and harvesting in Pakistan were also causing problems including low per acre productivity due to which the average crop in Pakistan was just 1/4th of that of advanced states whereas countries like Nepal, India and Bangladesh were getting better per acre yield by using modern scientific methods.

He stressed that government should also support farmers in adopting modern cultivation and harvesting methods to improve agriculture productivity.

He said there was no proper arrangement to provide easy financing especially to small farmers for agriculture inputs and stressed that government should set up better institutional mechanisms to provide easy credit to small farmers in order to facilitate them in purchasing seeds, pesticides, fertilizers etc.

He said with the cooperation and support of government, agriculture sector has the potential to bring revolutionary improvements in agriculture productivity and ensuring food security for the country.