LAHORE - In the absence of Opposition, the provincial assembly witnessed smooth proceedings during question hour on agriculture and government business on Wednesday.  

Minister for Law Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman laid two bills including Punjab Local Government (Third Amendment) Bill 2014 and Punjab Strategic Coordination (Amendment) Bill 2014 before the House which were referred to concerned Standing Committees for submitting reports.

The proceedings started 55 minutes behind schedule time with Speaker Rana Iqbal in the chair.

During question hour on agriculture, Provincial Minister Dr Farrukh Javed said that production of wheat and cotton was gradually increasing. He said that 11new varieties of wheat and 10 of cotton having resistance against diseases had been introduced. He said that out of 58,000 watercourses, 43,720 had been cemented.

“Supply chain project has been prepared with the cooperation of World Bank through which not only farmers will get best yield but also have access to international markets for exporting their products. Markets of mango will be established in Multan and Kinno in Sargodha under supply chain project,” the minister told the House.

He said that the government was giving priority to generate energy through alternate sources under which one lakh tube-wells would be transferred to biogas throughout province. Replying to a question, he said that citrus was important export oriented fruit through which country earns foreign exchange of billion of rupees. He said that most of Kinno was exported to Russia, Iran, Indonesia and Malaysia. He said that ban imposed by Russia on import of Pakistani fruits last year had been lifted. Now this fruit is being exported to Russia in a large quantity, he said.

He said that work was going on a project costing Rs 227 million regarding eliminating fruit-fly. He said that 120 farmer field schools had been set up under fruit and vegetable project where practical training of one year had been imparted to 3,000 gardeners of citrus. He expressed hope that the production and quality of citrus fruits would improve.

Regarding fruit and vegetable markets, he said that government intended to shift these markets out of cities and to those places where eatable items could be supplied in a better manner.

He said that agriculture land from 12 to 25 acre has been provided to 1,609 agri-graduates in 26 districts on a five years lease so that they benefit from their modern education.

The minister said that over 5,500 watercourses would be improved under PIPIP. He assured the House to take all steps for protecting farmers’ interests, saying the government policy regarding resolving problems of farmers on priority basis was very clear.