District: (Development of agriculture sector must for economic development: Shahbaz)

SIALKOT: Punjab Chief Minister Mohammad Shehbaz Sharif has said that the dream of economical development and stability could never become true without the development of agriculture sector.

He said an early and amicable solution to the farmers and growers prolonged problems was the top priority of the government, adding that the prosperity of Pakistan was closely linked with the prosperity of its farmers.

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

He stated this while addressing the participants of the Kisaan Relief Package cheques distribution ceremony held at Narowal here on Monday. Shehbaz Sharif added that the government was fully aware of the prolonged perturbing problems of the farmers and growers and was making all out sincere and hectic efforts to resolve these problems amicably by giving maximum relief to them.

He said that Kissan Relief Package would also give a boost to the national agro based economy besides helping a lot to 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 added.

Shehbaz Sharif narrated that despite all the negative propaganda of the political opponents, the PML-N government was successfully delivering and was moving on the right lines and directions towards the goal of national economical and political stability.

He said that the government was coming upto expectations of the masses. “We wanted to implement Kisaan relief package within a week; however, some people put hurdles in our way to support farmers,” he claimed.

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

Under the package the small rice farmers would be provided Rs5, 000 per acre cash support. The cash assistance of Rs5,000 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 narrated that a mega Rs 341 billion 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 make the small farmers prosperous.

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

He said 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 on this facility will bear the cost of Rs 20 billion each for rice and cotton crops.

He said government had already set up an Rs 20 billion fund to reduce prices of fertilizers which will lessen Rs 500 per bag of Potassium and Nitrate fertilizers.

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.

On this occasion, Narowal DCO Syed Najaf Iqbal told newsmen that Punjab government would distribute Rs 923.8 million among Narowal district’s 43000 farmers under the Kisaan Relief Package.