April 19, 2014
BY Jaan Haider
ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Saturday said that agriculture sector is base of country’s economy and plays pivotal role in supporting it therefore strategies should be chalked out to ensure the agriculture sector.
He stated this while chairing a meeting to review agricultural products prices in the country and the strategy to ensure agriculture sector growth at the Finance Ministry.
Dar said that agriculture continues to play a central role in the Pakistan’s economy with pivotal impact on the socio-economic set-up. It accounts for over 21 percent of GDP, while employing 45 percent of the country’s labour force, he added.
The minister said that a holistic approach is needed for development of agricultural sector in Pakistan. He said that agricultural policy should aim towards small farmers to combat poverty in rural areas. He said that tackling poverty demanded fundamental rethinking and innovation. He emphasized that National Agriculture Policy must be formulated at the earliest for optimum use of natural resources to make the country self-sufficient in food.
To meet the challenges of food insecurity and malnutrition, it was imperative that latest technological advancements and innovative techniques should be employed to improve the productivity of land, emphasized the Finance Minister. The minister said that in order to control prices of agricultural products middleman’s role should be managed in coordination with the provinces.
National Food Security and Research Minister Sikandar Hayat Bosan said that Pakistan has a great potential in the sector of agriculture. Although, constitutionally, agriculture is a provincial responsibility, national issues such as the import and export of agricultural inputs and products, price setting, standardisation and quarantine issues, national research and inter provincial issues such as the rehabilitation, come under the ambit of the federal government.
He said his ministry is sharing experiences and innovative ideas among farmers and agricultural researchers as well as private sector which will boost up the growth of agriculture sector. He mentioned that the ministry is working on several projects to make modern agricultural technology accessible to farmers and growers so that they could increase the yield of their farming fields.
On the upward trend in the prices of potato, Dar was informed that there is almost 1.1 million tonnes of surplus potato in the country and role of provincial governments is important to discourage hoarding and manipulation.
The finance minister agreed on devising a mechanism to control the prices in coordination with provinces and next meting in this regard will be held at the Finance Ministry during next week.
The meeting was attended by Seerat Asghar Jaura, secretary NFS & Research; Dr Iftikhar Ahmad, chairman PARC, Rana Asad Amin, advisor to the Finance Ministry; and Shahid Mahmood, special assistance to finance minister. – Pakistan Today