‘Rs 36 billion agriculture sector project in the offing’
December 14, 2011: Punjab Agricultural Minister, Maik Ahmad Ali Aulakh has said that a mega project worth 36 billion by Punjab government is in the cards in a bid to uplifting the agricultural sector and protecting available water resources. He was addressing an international seminar titled “High Efficiency Irrigation System” held in connection with Golden Year Celebrations arranged by department of irrigation and drainage, University of Agriculture here at New Senate Hall.
He said that under the scheme, drip irrigation system would be introduced for 1.4 million acres besides brick-lining of 9,000 watercourses and providing the 3,000 laser land levellers. He said that Punjab Government was working on setting up small dams in a bid to save the water as country was throwing 35 MAF of water to seas.
He said that his government had provided as many as Rs one billion grant to the Punjab Agricultural Research Board in order to execute research projects to meet the agricultural challenges. He said the government was considering providing additional amount of Rs one billion for the board keeping in view introducing new varieties of various crops and control the viruses including CLVC.
He said that during the tenure of his government, 65 new state-of the-art varieties of different crops including eight of cotton had been approved by Punjab Seed Corporation, which would increase the agricultural production manifold. The minister said the government has earmarked Rs 650 million for promoting of tunnel farming across the province.
He said that to share the financial burden of farming community, Rs 0.2 million had been provided as subsidy per tractor under the Punjab Chief Minster Green Tractor Scheme, for promoting the machine cultivation. He said that the government had also earmarked Rs one billion has been allocated for the agricultural implements for promoting latest technology across the province. He said that the government had seized fake agricultural medicines and materials worth 350 million.
He urged the agricultural scientists and water experts to set up a form for providing recommendations on the water issues to the government. He said that such valuable recommendations to be presented before the Punjab Chief Minster Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif for execution. He urged the agricultural engineers to come forward by developing low cost machinery to solve the problems of small farmers. He hailed the efforts being taking on the part of UAF for its tangible efforts for making the country food secure. He urged Extension Department to expedite the efforts about educating the farmers in order to boosting up agriculture.
He said that during the 2008-9, the provincial government launched ‘wheat competition’. Under the competition, the progressive farmers were getting 80 mounds of the wheat where the average wheat production is 28 mounds. Earlier, UAF Vice Chancellor, Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan told the minister that Lower Chanab Canal System was planned and implemented in 1880 with the financial assistance of a British Bank that converted then barren land into fertile land.
He said it was matter of grave concern that after 1960, little investment had been made on the water reservoirs. It is the need of the hour to invest in the water otherwise the country would face havoc. He said that the country needed water markets that would channelize water resources and its efficient use.
Faculty of Agri Engineering and Technology Dean, Professor Dr Rai Niaz said that the country is list in red zone in term of per capita water availability having 1,000 cubic metre. He said the situation would become much alarming in year 2050 with 550 cubic metre water per person. Faculty’s Professor Dr Muhammad Ashfaq demanded indulging agricultural engineers and scientists into the irrigation department. Director General Agriculture (Water Management) Punjab, Muhammd Ashraf, Professor Dr Qamar Zaman from Canada, Dept Chairman, Dr Allah Buksh and Pakistan Society of Engineering President, Mushtaq Ahmad Gill also spoke on the occasion.