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Farmer's 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.

Farmer's Convention Brings Hope?Addressing 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 month.

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 the weak.

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 amount.

Farmer's Convention Brings Hope?This 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 for them.

He said those farmers having outstanding loans of Rs 200,000 can settle their cases on the payment of 25 percent of the principal amount.

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 billion.

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 country.

President Musharraf said the total agricultural credit, which reached Rs 65 billion this year will be increased to Rs 100 billion.

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 shortage.


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 forefront.

Farmer's Convention Brings Hope?The government policy focuses on sustainable food security, increasing productivity encouraging commercial agriculture, imports-substitution, income diversification and export orientation.

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 farming community.

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.

Farmer's Convention Brings Hope?The 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 publicly acknowledged.

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 agricultural economy.

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 about it.

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 magnificent performance.

Water shortage is one of the main limiting factors in agriculture and the drought over last few years has further compounded this situation.

Farmer's Convention Brings Hope?The 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 country.

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 agriculture.



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.

Farmer's Convention Brings Hope?Similarly, 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 Research Institute.

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 for development.


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 been formulated.

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 edible oils.

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 and research.

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 commodities.

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 reach.

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 regular intervals.

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

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