Convention Brings Hope?
Musharraf announces agricultural package
ISLAMABAD (June 11 2004): President General Pervez Musharraf
has announced a comprehensive agricultural package aimed at
providing relief to the farmers.
farmers' convention here on Thursday, he announced abolishment
of sales tax and withholding tax on the import of all
agricultural implements not manufactured in the country.
The prices of DAP fertiliser have been reduced by Rs 100 per
bag. The new prices will be effective on all the new imports
from July 1.
Musharraf said due to steady rise in the demand of tractors
and increased availability of agricultural credits, the
deletion for the tractors manufactured in the country has been
revised to 40 percent in the first year and eventually 100
percent during next five years. This would encourage new
entrants in tractor manufacturing in Pakistan.
The president said, in addition, the import of new tractors
below 35 HP and above 100 HP has been allowed with only 10
percent duty. There will be no general sales and withholding
tax. This measure will not hurt the tractor industry in the
country, as they do not manufacture this range of tractors.
The president also announced abolishment of the duty structure
on raw materials used for manufacturing pesticides.
He said the duty structure, which is being announced in the
budget, would provide local manufacture more advantages.
President Musharraf while directing the concerned authorities
to revise the Fertiliser Policy by the end of this month said
that the new policy should encourage and increase urea
production capacity so that farmers would get realistic cost.
In another major relief to the farmers, the president
announced that the interest rate of Zarai Tarraqiati Bank is
being brought down from 14 percent to 9 percent from the next
The new rate will be charged for all types of new loans,
including loans for tractors and tube-well so that maximum
number of people could benefit. Those customers who pay back
their loans on time will be charged only 8 percent of interest
for next year.
The president also announced that the powers of Zarai
Tarraqiati Bank for arrest and imprisonment of the farmers for
not returning their loans are being abolished with immediate
effect as such powers have only been used against the poor and
In order to provide major relief to those farmers having
outstanding agricultural loans, the president said loans cases
of up to Rs 500,000 defaulted till December 31, 2000 can be
settled on the payment of 50 percent of the outstanding
concession will benefit about 250,000 farmers. Keeping in view
the hardships faced by the farmers of Balochistan owing to
prolonged drought the president announced special concession
He said those farmers having outstanding loans of Rs 200,000
can settle their cases on the payment of 25 percent of the
He said as water channels are the lifeline of farmers,
therefore, a gigantic project is being undertaken under which
87,000 Kutcha Khalas of Pakistan will be brick-lined under a
crashed programme in the next four years.
This will conserve about 30 percent of water lost due to
absence of watercourse lining. The project will cost Rs 66
In this regard, Rs 1 billion had already been released and
another Rs 6 billion have been allocated in the next financial
year. This project will create employment for about 100,000
skilled and unskilled workers in the rural areas of the
President Musharraf said the total agricultural credit, which
reached Rs 65 billion this year will be increased to Rs 100
He underlined the importance of undertaking small and big dams
in order to meet severe shortage of water. He said a number of
projects have been initiated to develop water sources such as
raising the crest of Mangla dam, construction of Gomal Zam
Dam, Mirani Dam, Subak Zai Dam and Sapara Dam.
He said 2.8 million acres of land would be brought under
cultivation once these projects will be completed.
The president said Kalabagh Dam will have to be constructed
sooner or later at the face of looming danger of water
Messages by Higher Officials
President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Pakistan is predominantly an agro-based economy. Overall
annual growth of the country is greatly influenced by the
performance of agriculture sector. The Kisan Convention is
therefore an apt occasion to place agriculture at the
government policy focuses on sustainable food security,
increasing productivity encouraging commercial agriculture,
imports-substitution, income diversification and export
The main thrust in agriculture -sector is to increase farm
productivity and profitability. This would improve economic
conditions and raise living standard of the rural masses and
As of today, Pakistan faces a formidable challenge of water
shortage. The policy focus is on a balanced approach of
investment in water infrastructure and water management to
address supply and demand issues simultaneously.
The goal is to address water scarcity through increase of
storage capacity, managing flow of flood water, safe disposal
of drainage effluent, tapping of underground water and
reducing seepage losses water delivery process.
Livestock and fisheries also are fast growing sub-sectors in
Pakistan. The strategy with regard to livestock is to focus on
genetic improvement of breeds of livestock, increase
development of feed and fodder resources, establish feed
mills, eradicate diseases of economic and trade importance,
improve marketing facilities, also needs special recognition.
We need to encourage it.
On the occasion of the Kisan Convention, I call upon the
farming community to raise the level of their efforts and use
modern technology for increasing their productivity and
profitability. May Allah be with us in our endeavours.
Prime Minister of Pakistan
I am happy to know that the Ministry of Food, Agriculture &
Livestock is holding a Formers' Convention in Islamabad. I
shall be happier still if the occasion is used by the Ministry
to establish a relationship of trust and confidence with
organisations representing farmers of all levels.
We are taking all the possible measures to make up for the
past neglect of agriculture, for Pakistan's economy is still
dependent on this life-giving field of activity.
contribution that farmers are making to the economy by
bringing about self-sufficiency in food and providing raw
material for 65 per cent of the country's exports must be
The fact is that investment in agriculture and livestock has
vast potential and assures a reasonable rate of return,
besides creating employment opportunities and contributing to
the growth of the economy.
Our government is determined to encourage such investment and
is prepared to provide the necessary incentives.
I hope that through interaction the convention will enable the
participants to identify issues and take decisions to solve
the problems of the farming community that are bound to crop
up during the sessions.
Farmers and policy-makers should focus on evolving strategies
to upscale the production of food grains and of cash crops
like cotton, for both are imperative for a healthy
Key areas like quality in productivity, commercial aspects of
agriculture/ imports substitution, income diversification and
export expansion must receive due attention.
Let me add here that our government's poverty alleviation
programme for the rural areas can receive a real boost if the
public and private sector operate, in tandem and prevail upon
farmers' associations, chambers of agriculture, village
co-operatives, NGOs and the civil society to co-operate for
achieving its targets. The primary need is to create awareness
This year we hope to make the budget allocation for
agriculture bigger than ever before, and I shall expect the
convention to throw up useful suggestions about new areas
where money can be fruitfully spent.
I wish the convention all success.
Minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock
Agricultural growth in Pakistan over last four decades has
taken place at a rate of 4.3 percent per annum. The green
revolution of sixties and Pakistanis investment in water and
agricultural infrastructure facilitated to accomplish this
Water shortage is one of the main limiting factors in
agriculture and the drought over last few years has further
compounded this situation.
government is aware of this ordeal and ventures to address
this issue on top priority. We are putting up a massive
investment in on farm water management of Rs 66 billion to
over next four years to renovate the remaining 86 thousand
water courses in all federating units of Pakistan at an
accelerated pace. I hope farming community will participate
actively to make this program a success.
Availability of agricultural credit is highly important for
boosting agricultural production and pushing the agenda of
raising productivity and reducing poverty levels in the
The commercial banks and leasing companies have been inducted
to play leading role in addressing the need for farm credit.
The State Bank has already reformed procedures for
disbursement and retirement of the credit.
We are committed for a rapid farm mechanisation of farm
operations. The government is seriously making efforts to make
equipment cost effective so that a small farmer has an access
to these appliances.
I hope that the Farmer's Convention will provide a useful
forum to the policy formulators and stake-holders to take
concrete steps which will go a long way in improving
Chief Minister Punjab
Agriculture Sector is the single largest employer and backbone
of our national economy. Government of the Punjab has,
therefore, taken a number of multi-dimensional initiatives to
achieve self-reliance and sustainable growth in this sector.
Conservation of water resources tops the priority list of the
Government and a crash programme has been launched to improve
all the unattended watercourses within the next four years.
In order to provide affordable credit to farmers, the Punjab
Government persuaded the Bank of Punjab to reduce its mark up
from 14% to 9%.
The commercial banks have also followed suit and reduced
interest rates from 9-32%. Water rate has been fixed at Rs 50A
per acre for rabi season and Rs, 85/- per acre for kharif crop
whereas, abiana for orchards has been reduced from Rs 280A to
Rs 250A per acre.
the ceiling for levy of agriculture tax has been raised from 5
acres to 12.5 acres, benefiting millions of farmers.
A separate Minister and a Special Secretary for Agricultural
Marketing have been appointed to reform the agricultural
marketing and a corporate body is being established to
minimise market distortions.
The Government is also cognisant of quality issues and has
embarked upon launching a pesticide residue laboratory and an
integrated pest management programme besides accreditation of
soil testing and pesticide quality analysis laboratories and
their ISO Certification.
Since, agricultural research is an engine of growth in Punjab,
the Agriculture Department is revamping the Ayub Agricultural
Faisalabad and establishing an apex body for research. Above
all, on my direction, one lac acres of land shall be allotted
to landless farmers along-with a financial assistance package
Chief Minister NWFP
I congratulate the Federal Ministry of Agriculture on holding
Farmers' Convention for development of agriculture and
livestock and welfare of farmers at the national level.
The people and the Government of NWFP are thankful to the
federal government especially the President Pervez Musharraf
on sanctioning funds for the national programme for irrigation
reforms and renovation of water courses.
This programme along with increasing agricultural production,
will provide employment opportunity to 31 thousand people in
the province directly and indirectly.
MMA's provincial government is endeavouring to make our
province self- sufficient in food. In view of achieving the
target of establishing agriculture on proper lines and
developing it, provincial agriculture policy, agricultural
strategy development of orchards, small dams projects for
tackling drought situations and to store water resource, and
policies for development of private sector in agriculture have
For providing advice and other agricultural services to the
farmers at affordable price at their door step, establishing
Farm Services Centers at District and Tehsil levels, providing
them certified quality seed at government rates through
Frontier Seed Industry and to increase production of edible
oil other than expanded cultivation for Sunflower, Soyabean,
Peanuts, Canola and Olive grafting of wild olive plants is
also being carried at a fast pace to produce high quality
To enhance tea plantation production establishment of a
processing plant is in its last phases. Apart from these
renovation of 2000 water courses and construction of 350 water
reservoirs with co- operation of World Bank and Asian
Development Bank is also included under Irrigation Reform on
Farm Water Management Programme.
There are 14 research centers working to prepare quality
affordable production seeds in the province.
Steps like establishing units for promotion of high bread
animals, prevention of diseases and producing seven for
artificial breeding, and prevention of animals will certainly
make the production of meat, milk and eggs increase
significantly in the Frontier Province.
Along with this, work is continuing with financial assistance
of the federal government on poverty alleviation programme,
development of private sector and co-ordination on expansion
It is expected that this Farmers Convention will helpful in
achieving the tasks of Agriculture and Livestock development
especially the welfare of the farmer community.
Minister of State for Food, Agriculture and Livestock
The rural Pakistan over last two decades has under gone
massive transformation with respect to connectivity through
infrastructure of roads and telecommunication.
This has improved the accessibility of rural masses for
transfer of knowledge and also transport of agricultural
However, the agricultural scene did not change much because of
protracted drought, low surface water flow, high incident of
insects, pests diseases and multiple of other factors as poor
farming practices, use of low quality seeds and inadequate and
unbalanced use of fertiliser.
The factors have led to stagnation in productivity of almost
all major crops.
The government is conscious of this stalemate. We have decided
to take up a major reform agenda in agriculture sector to
break the inertia in farm productivity.
Alhamd-o-Lillah the development budget of Ministry of Food,
Agriculture and Livestock has been raised from Rs 2.8 billion
in 2003- 04 to by manifold for 2004-05.
The water sector has been given priority and a massive program
of renovating the entire lot of 86,000 water courses,
untouched so far will be improved during next four years at a
cost of Rs 66 billion.
Through concerted efforts we will be able to raise the
productivity of crops and livestock. Insha Allah we will be
successful in transforming rural scenario in a short span.
Secretary Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock
The Farmers' Convention signifies a resolute commitment and a
firm resolve of the present Government to the cause of
Agriculture in Pakistan.
It is an occasion to reflect on the limitations and potentials
of a very critical sector of the economy with a view to chart
out a proactive and an all encompassing strategy which can
bring in dividends to our farmers on a sustainable basis.
This in turn will contribute a great deal to make agriculture
a lead sector in terms of the over all growth of the economy.
We, therefore, need to move with a fast pace in a number of
directions to increase the over all productivity, focus on
varietal development, cope with the water stresses in a bold
manner and concentrate on the value addition of our produces
with a view to find a place in the world market.
There is also a dire need for strengthening the linkages
between the farm and the research out-fits. Delivery system
will need a complete revamping with a view to ensure timely
availability of inputs, credit line etc with a maximum out
There is also the need to improve the marketing network so
that the fruits of development must percolate at the farm
level to the small and the subsistence grower.
I do trust that the Farmers' Convention will augur well for
the Agriculture of Pakistan and lay a solid basis for our
future growth and progress.
President Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited
Restructured ZTBL has been focusing on introducing farmer -
friendly initiatives to facilitate agricultural uplift in this
country. The products and services of ZTBL have been
specifically designed to meet the multiple problems of the
farmers at all levels of their operations.
The credit limit have also been increased to enable the
farmers to boost agricultural produce.
With this Farmer Convention, we plan to streamline and
integrate the provisions of improved services for the farmers
community by keeping close monitoring and interaction on
This convention would bring the farmers and the bank on a
single platform for addressing the various issues being faced
by the agriculture sector. I would also like to assure the
farmers community of the utmost commitment that ZTBL plans to
maintain in dealing with their problems and consequently, in
bringing more productivity to this land.
I, believe that the soil and farmers of our country have
tremendous potential and given proper & adequate inputs credit
through modern and sustained farming technologies, it can
enhance the economic base of our country.
For this purpose, we have broad based plans to ameliorate the
farmers, particularly the small ones and women in becoming
entrepreneurs and providing growth to their families and to
the country itself.
Curtsey: Business Recorder