Punjab props up beleaguered farmers


LAHORE: Punjab Agriculture Department has formally declared the commencement of the Rabi wheat season in arid (barani) areas. Provincial government has pledged to provide free seeds and fertiliser to the farmers with land holdings of 25 acres of land in districts ravaged by the massive floods.
The provincial government has determined the wheat crop target at 17 million tonnes, which is equivalent to last year’s target. However, Provincial Agriculture Department believes that Punjab might surpass the target owing to better moisture in arid areas exposed to heavy downpours.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, provincial Secretary Agriculture, Arif Nadeem, revealed that the provincial government has decided to provide free seeds and fertiliser to farmers in the seven flood-hit districts of Punjab, including Mianwali, Bhakar, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan.
Free seeds and fertiliser would be provided for half the acreage of a 25 acre plot of farmland. Responding to a query, he said that the province would set aside some 60,000 tonnes of seeds and fertiliser respectively for distribution. Seeds would be dispersed from the Punjab Food Department’s procurement centers. The National Fertiliser Marketing Limited (NFML) would provide fertiliser as it had maintained reserves of 0.262 million tonnes of fertiliser.
The process of verification is taking precedent with applicants’ data and information was being tallied from NADRA database. A list of eligible farmers would be printed on October 22, while the distribution of vouchers would begin by October 30.
Arif Nadeem emphasised the importance of marinating transparency at all levels within the distribution system, the services of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) have been well employed, with the creation of a central database of distribution records. All free seeds and fertiliser distribution vouchers would be printed on security paper to avoid possible forgery, he added.
It was pointed out that in the event that inconsistencies were discovered in the applicants’ data such as discrepancies in personal data of candidates; they would be tackled in second phase which after addressing all concerns would issue a second list of eligible farmers which would be published on November 17.
It has been clarified that the provincial Agriculture Department has prioritised five varieties of wheat namely GA-2002, Uqab-2000, Chakwal-50, NARC-2009 and Baras-2009 for sowing in Barani areas. It has recommended one bag of DAP, 3/4 bag of Urea and half bag of Potassium Sulphate for low rainfall areas, including Bhakkar, Mianwali and Khushab, whereas farmers in areas endowed with medium and high rainfall, including Chakwal, Pindi Gheb, Rawalpindi, Attock, Jehlum, Sohawa, are encouraged to use two bags of DAP, 3/4 bag of Urea and half bag of Potassium Sulphate before sowing.
It is worth mentioning here that wheat was cultivated on 17.08 million acres in Punjab last year, of which 1.36 million acres were located in Barani areas.