LAHORE - Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer has said that wheat production of more than 18 million tons is expected in Punjab this year. He said the government would purchase entire produce of the farmers that would be brought for procurement at the rate of Rs 950 per 40-kg during the wheat procurement campaign starting from April 15 in the province. The Governor Punjab stated this while presiding over a meeting regarding development projects in agriculture sector here at Governor's House on Thursday. Chief Secretary Punjab, Naguibullah Malik, Chairman P&D Sohail Ahmed, Secretary Agriculture Javed Iqbal Awan, Secretary Food Irfan Elahi, Secretary Livestock Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan, Secretary Irrigation Babar Hassan Bharwana, Special Secretary Marketing Javaid Akhtar, Special Secretary Finance, Naveed Allauddin, Managing Director Punjab Seed Corporation Ahsan Raja and Chief Exective Punjab Agriculture Research Board Dr. Mubarak Ali besides Directors General of Water Management, Field Agriculture, Pest Warning & Quality Control, Forest, Wildlife & Fisheries, Agriculture Extension and Research sectors attended the meeting. After a detailed briefing regarding agriculture sector, Governor Salmaan Taseer ordered immediate lifting of the ban on inter-district transportation of chemical fertilizers and wheat. He expressed the hope that as a result of this decision, chemical fertilizers would be easily available to the farmers in the open market while they will also be able to get better returns for their produce. The Governor directed Food Department Punjab to provide gunny bags directly to the growers instead of brokers so that the role of middleman could be minimized. The meeting was informed that the State Bank of Pakistan is providing a sum of Rs.106 billion to Food Department Punjab for wheat procurement this year. The Governor directed that cash flow chart should be prepared and a daily report should be sent to Governor's House in this regard. The meeting also reviewed the arrangements for providing necessary facilities to the farmers regarding whet procurement. Secretary Agriculture Punjab, Javaid Iqbal Awan informed the Governor during the briefing that overall budget for agriculture sector for the year 2008-09 is seven billion 25 crore rupees out of which four billion 25 crore rupees have been earmarked for non-developmental expenditure and three billion rupees for development projects in agriculture sector. He said that lining of watercourses under the national program of NPWI is being completed expeditiously in the province at a cost of Rs 28 billion 22 crore. The Governor directed that in the areas where there is need for lining additional water courses aside from this programme possibility of interaction with district government should also be explored regarding provision of funds from citizen community boards. The meeting was informed that Drip Irrigation and Pressurized Sprinkle Irrigation System would be installed over an area of one lakh 40 thousand acres of land this year under Water conservation Programme at a cost of Rs.6 billion. Similarly, a sum of Rs. 3 billion would be spent on food security and productivity enhancement programme while under Punjab Community Development Project rehabilitation work to save orchards spread over two lakh acres of land from water logging and salinity will be completed at a cost of Rs.80 crore in Sargodha, Hafizabad and Jhang districts while UNDP has extended special cooperation of Rs.26 crore for the project. He said that Agriculture Extension Wing is being reorganized at a cost of Rs.54 crore for increasing per acre yield of land. He said that 29 on-going projects costing Rs.4 billion are included in the proposed development programme of 2009-2010 in Agriculture Sector. Moreover, a sum of rupees one billion has been allocated in the next Annual Development Programme for agriculture extension and water management while Rs.1.5 billion have been earmarked for Punjab Agriculture Research Board and Rs.19 crore for Agri Research and Rs.15 crore for Agri Mechanization. Governor Salmaan Taseer directed setting up of special courts at district level for addressing the complaints of the farmers against dealers involved in spurious pesticides. He also ordered preparation of a summary immediately for the reorganization of various institutions engaged in agri research and stressed the need for a regular service structure for the scientists associated with agri research. He also issued instructions for granting special allowance for research in addition to salaries to research scholars in agriculture sector and said that the promotion of agri scientists should be linked with the nature of the research and the impact of their research results. The meeting also decided to return the control of seven schools of agriculture machinery training set up under TEVTA to Agriculture Department. Provincial government will provide subsidized equipment for training purpose to these schools. Governor Salmaan Taseer welcomed the setting up of green house storage having a capacity of 450 tons fruits and vegetables in the cargo lounge of Lahore Airport and directed that such green house storage should also be established at the airports of Faisalabad, Multan and Rahim Yar Khan for preserving export items brought to the airport. The Governor also ordered desiliting of drains in Faisalabad, Sargodha, Toba Tek Singh and Muzaffargarh districts to protect agricultural land against the effects of rising underground water level. Managing Director Punjab Seed Corporation, Ahsan Raja informed the meeting that Seed Corporation will achieve the capability to multiply and double the quantity of certified seed acquired from the farmers in the next three years. He said that the present capacity of 73 thousand maund quality seed of Seed Corporation would be increased to 90,000- maund during next three years. The Governor directed to accelerate the project of developing hybrid seeds in research and development laboratory of Seed Corporation and ordered that the Board of Directors including the head of Punjab Seed Corporation should be reorganized and such individuals from private sector should be inducted in the Board who specialize in agriculture marketing, research and business administration.