LAHORE - An amount of Rs172.17 million have been approved for funding six higher priority research projects in 20th meeting of Board of Directors of Punjab Agricultural Research Board, chaired by Malik Ahmad Ali Aulukh, Minister for Agriculture, Punjab held on Thursday at Punjab Assembly Committee room. The meeting was attended by BOD members of PARB including Raja Shoukat Aziz Bhatti member Punjab Assembly, Ch. Mumtaz Ahmad Jajja member Punjab Assembly, Shahjahan Bahtti member Punjab Assembly, Arif Nadeem Secretary Agriculture, Dr. Mubarik Ali Chief Executive PARB, and representatives of Finance Department, planning and development department, Forest and Livestock departments. According to detail, Rs 12.808 million were approved for the project Wheat crop improvement for drought tolerance through biotechnology aimed at enhancing the productivity of wheat under drought conditions. An amount of Rs 16.85 million was approved for Evaluation of Phosphoric acids as an alternative to commercial Phosphate fertilizers and enhancing its efficiency for higher crop productivity. As a result of this research project cheaper and efficient alternate source of DAP & SSP will be available to farming community with 25% lesser cost and 20% more efficiency compared to solid Phosphatic fertilizers. The Board of Directors also approved Rs 29.578 million for the project Sugarcane plant improvement through traditional and modern breeding technologies, which will result in improving yield of sugar cane varieties, ratoonability, sugar contents and other agronomic traits. An amount of Rs 27.28 million were provided for Development of Wheat with low phytate for increasing bioavailability of iron and zinc, with the objective to address nutrition deficiency of iron and zinc in the population. Moreover, an amount of Rs 19.5 million were allocated for Documenting and mitigating the impact of pesticides and heavy metals on vegetable, targeting at creating awareness among consumers and producers about the extent of hazardous effects of pesticides on human health and to produce pesticides free safer vegetables in periurban areas of Punjab. Further more, an amount of Rs 66.145 million were approved for another research project to safeguard Pakistani wheat from potential disease threats and enabling to enhance tolerance level of three wheat cultivars against stem rust disease. Earlier, it was briefed in the meeting that PARB has provided Rs. 436.904 millions for Agricultural Research during 2007-08 and 2008-09 for 21 research projects. Minister for Agriculture said that Agriculture is top priority of the Punjab Government for which adequate resources are being provided to conduct research of international standards for enhancing productivity.