KARACHI - Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said on Wednesday that agriculture was the backbone of Sindh’s economy and the provincial government was doing a lot for the progress and development of the farming sector and to enhance per acre crop yield. “All-out facilities are being provided to farmers, besides equipping them with latest techniques and modern technologies,” asserted the chief minister during a ceremony held to ballot 6,000 tractors, at the CM’s House. It may be mentioned here that it was the third balloting. Previously, 8,736 subsidised tractors were distributed to farmers.He said that over 65 per cent of the province’s population, directly or indirectly, depended on agriculture (for their living) and due to concerted efforts, per acre yield had been increased up to 29 percent. Sindh, added Qaim, imported wheat three years ago “but at present we are self-sufficient and have been exporting certain food items”. Regarding the increase in prices of agriculture inputs, such as fertiliser and seeds, the chief minister said it was due to the hike in prices of oil, transportation costs and shortage of electricity and gas. He called on investors, agriculturists and growers to encourage agro-based industries in the province. He further said that suggestions of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture would be considered as regards the prices of agriculture inputs.Referring to the scarcity of water, the chief minister said talks with the federal government were underway for getting the province’s due share of water. About the shortage of bardana (gunnysacks), Qaim said that harvesting was delayed due to late sowing in lower Sindh but it would soon be completed, keeping in view the expected heavy rainfall. He further said that the wheat procurement drive would be intensified and the food and agriculture departments would see to the interests of the farming community.Qaim said when the Sindh government, keeping in view the federal government’s recommendation, enhanced wheat price to Rs1050 per 40 kg, other provinces followed the suit. Later, the chief minister performed the ballot for the allotment of subsidised tractors to of lucky growers.Earlier, Sindh Agriculture Secretary Aijaz Ali Khan, while presenting his welcome address, highlighted the government’s perspectives on the scheme for provision of subsidized tractors in the province. For the 6,000 tractors, the department received about 18,506 applications.He added that the government gave Rs1600million subsidy on these tractors, Rs 0.2 million on small tractors and Rs 0.3 million on big tractors. The secretary further said that Rs650 million had been spent on other schemes for enhancement of the agriculture sector. He announced that successful growers would have to deposit full amount of a tractor (with subsidy) within 15 days, latest by May 10. Sindh Chamber of Agriculture President Dr Nadeem Qamar and Abdul Majeed Nizamani also addressed the ceremony, which was attended by provincial ministers Ali Nawaz Shah, Murad Ali Shah, Shazia Marri, Jam Madad Ali, MPAs Anwar Mahar, Dr Abdul Sattar Rajpar, Imran Leghari, Board of Investment Chairman Zubair Motiwala, Sindh Chief Secretary Raja Muhammad Abbas, the provincial secretaries, agriculturists and others.