Development of agriculture sector a must for economic development: Shehbaz

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Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Monday that the dream of economical development and stability in the country could never become true without the development of agriculture.

Addressing the participants of the Kissaan Relief Package cheques distribution ceremony held in Narowal, he said that a timely and amicable solution to the farmers and growers’ prolonged problems was the top priority of the government. He said that the prosperity of Pakistan was closely linked with the prosperity of its farmers.

He said Kissaan Package was an unprecedented financial support package to farmers in the country’s 68 year history, adding that farmers and growers had been the backbone of the agro-based country’s economy.

Sharif said that the government was fully aware of the problems faced by farmers and growers and was making all-out efforts to resolve them and give maximum relief to those associated with the agricultural sector.

He said that the Kissan Relief Package would also boost the agro based economy of the country besides helping pull the farmers’ community out of the prevailing financial crisis. “No government has ever announced such a huge package for farmers in the history of Pakistan,” he said.

Sharif said that despite all the negative propaganda of the political opponents, the PML-N government was successfully delivering and was moving in the right direction to achieve the goal of economic and political stability.

“We wanted to implement Kisaan relief package within a week; however, some people put hurdles in our way to support the farmers,” he claimed.

He said that the government was meeting the expectations of the masses.

The chief minister said that the relief package had been designed in four parts, with the first part being direct financial cooperation for farmers; second being relief in agricultural costs; third, the provision of agricultural loans and fourth, facilitating the process of obtaining loans.

Under the package, small rice farmers would be provided Rs 5, 000 per acre cash support. The cash assistance of Rs 5,000 has been announced for cotton growers as well, he added. A reduction in the prices of fertilizers has also been announced under the Kissan Package.

Punjab CM said that a Rs 341 billion mega relief package for small farmers included direct cash support and provision of soft agriculture loans. He said the package was aimed at introducing progressive agriculture on scientific lines, reducing production cost of crops and making the small farmers prosperous.

He said the country’s development was directly related to the uplift of its agriculture sector, particularly farmers. He said that under the package, small farmers would get Rs 147 billion as direct benefit while Rs 194 billion had been allocated for agriculture loans.

He said that the farmers cultivating rice and cotton at up to 12.5 acres of land would be given cash support of Rs 5,000 per acre. The government would pay Rs 20 billion each in subsidies for rice and cotton crops.

He said the government had already set up a Rs 20-billion fund to reduce prices of fertilizers which would bring down the price of Potassium and Nitrate fertilizers by Rs 500 per bag.

Also, the government was negotiating with local fertilizer manufacturers and gas companies to revert the increase in prices of fertilizers which had gone up by Rs 200 per bag.

DCO Narowal Syed Najaf Iqbal told newsmen on the occasion that Punjab government would distribute Rs 923.8 million among Narowal district’s 43,000 farmers under the Kissaan Relief Package.