RAWALPINDI (July 19 2007): Banks will provide Rs 10 billion loans to livestock farmers to meet the local market demand and enhance the livestock exports to neighbouring countries, said Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan here on Wednesday.
`We are firm that development of livestock sector would bring economic revolution in rural areas and also help improve the economic indicators of Pakistan`, he said while talking to members of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) during his visit. Pakistan Flour Mills Association President Sheikh Muhammad Shabir was also present on the occasion.
The minister said that the government has planned to set up 3,000 livestock farms, and the farmers would be provided 15 percent of their total cost as grant, besides total medical cover. Government efforts to increase the investment in livestock sector have yielded results and it has increased by 8 per cent, he added.
He said that the government has increased the PSDP allocation to agriculture sector manifold. `When I assumed charge as minister the PSDP allocation was just Rs 40 million, and this time it is Rs 16 billion`, he said.
He said that President Musharraf has provided Rs 66 billion for the lining of about 87,000 water courses and 40 percent work had been completed by the end of June. The work on remaining water courses would also be launched soon, he added.
Bosan said that this year Pakistan got a bumper wheat crop and government has not only achieved the target of 22.5 million tons but the figure also crossed the 23.5 million tons mark. The Passco and Punjab government have purchased sufficient wheat to meet the local requirements so that there is no risk of any shortage, he said.
The minister said that this year farmer has got full amount of Rs 425 per maund against his wheat crop and no complaint of any bungling from government sector was received. But, he added, the private sector had exploited the farmers and made purchases paying Rs 410 per maund to them.
Responding to a question regarding the rise in wheat prices in open market the minister held the flour mills association responsible for it. Bosan assured the poultry industrialists that he would raise the issue of bringing the electricity rates of the poultry industry at par with agriculture sector. `The ministries involved in this matter would be consulted and it would be settled soon`, he added.
He said that efforts of the government to increase the productivity in agriculture sector have started bearing fruit as production of cotton has increased by 45 percent while the rice crop touched 5.5 million tons this year.
Pakistan Flour Mills Association President Muhammad Shabir said that the government and mills association have arrived consensus to give maximum benefit to growers and consumers. `We agree that this year we have got bumper crop but even then the rates in open market are touching Rs 500 per maund`, he added.
He said that the government should take immediate measures to import at least one million tons wheat, failing which country would face acute crisis in November and December. He asked the government to fix the atta price at Rs 15 per kilogram to save mills association from loss.
Earlier, in his address of welcome, RCCI President Dr Sarosh said that the government should take immediate measures to save the poultry industry from disaster. He said that the poultry industry has been over-producing and government should allow export of poultry products to Afghanistan and UAE. These efforts are imperative to save the industry and people.
Sarosh also demanded waiver of one percent import duty on poultry items including feed and other equipment. He asked the minister that government should provide soft loans to poultry breeders so that they meet their losses caused by bird flu rumours and now due to overproduction.