Before the national and provincial budgets, the agronomists, experts and officials from Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) and agricultural research, extension, private sector and Progressive Farmers during the pre-budget session have recommended giving importance to the agricultural sector in the country at all times. In order to improve the economic condition, the agricultural sector has been declared as a hope for the development of the country.

A meeting of the Pre-Budget Session organized by Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) was held at University Rest House, which was chaired by Dr. Fateh Marri, Vice Chancellor SAU.

Dr. Nihaluddin Marri, and Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Jamro from Agriculture Research Sindh, Dr. Islamuddin Rajput, Additional Director, Agriculture Extension Sindh, Dr. Aijaz Ali Khoharo Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, SAU, Dr. Muhammad Ismail Kambhar, Dr. Thamina Mustafa Nagraj, Syed Mehmood Nawaz Shah, Syed Nadeem Shah, Nabi Bux Sathio from Farmers’ Organizations, Zubair Channar and Abdul Haque from Forest Department and others participated.

Dr. Tehmina Mustafa Nagraj of SAU gave a briefing on the importance and opportunities of agriculture and livestock, for the economic development of the Country.

Speaking on the occasion, Vice Chancellor Dr. Fateh Marri said that there is scope for research in agriculture, livestock and its by-products, pure seeds, high breeds of animals and investment in it for further research. While the private sector should also invest in agribusiness, by-products, and agro-tourism, he said that higher yields including wheat, cotton, and dairy industry could be achieved, adding that all agricultural products should be manufactured to export standards.

He said that if research was done to increase the production of cotton per acre up to 5 mounds, then Pakistan would be on the path of development. Therefore, all stakeholders should be consulted before formulating a budget and agricultural policy.

Syed Mehmood Nawaz Shah Vice President Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) said that agro-ecological zones should be established in the country, the marketing system should be improved, importance should be given to rain harvesting technology, instead of importing edible oil, pulses, and other food items, ensure their production and allocate more budget for research,

Nabi Bux Sathio, Vice President, Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, said that due to a lack of marketing system and price mechanism in the country, farmers are not benefiting from agricultural production, while commission agent fixes the prices of agricultural produce, so all agricultural marketing is done online. He said that due to the non-implementation of agricultural policy, the area under sugarcane and rice crops has increased due to non-implementation of agricultural policy, and since 2016. Rice is being planted on more than 200,000 acres.

He said that agriculture should be given importance in Tharparkar, Kohistan, and other areas and Low-delta agriculture should be expanded. He said that there should be a forum for agriculture, irrigation, food, livestock, and forest Ministers of the province, who should meet once a month and set their targets on agricultural development and also review it while involving farmers’ organizations in consultation. ,

Syed Nadeem Shah said that if dairy farmer increases the price of milk by five rupees, then everyone criticizes it, and they complain but if Tetra Pack rates go up in the industry, nobody asks them. He said that subsidies should be given to farmers on certified seeds and other commodities in the country. There are various facilities including subsidies to farmers in Punjab as compared to Sindh, and there is more work being done on agro-based domestic industry and by-products.

Nihal Marri of ARI said that there is salinity in the soil in Sindh, therefore importance should be given to salty fruit-bearing forests in these areas, and the growing population on lush lands should be stopped.

Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Jamro of Agriculture Research Sindh said that palm oil and other crops should be planted in the coastal areas, which would generate a lot of revenue.

Dr. Islamuddin Rajput, Additional Director, Agriculture Extension, said that modern technology should reach the common farmer and Zubair Channar of the Forest Department said that 100 billion could be earned from Horticulture Crop Value Edition.

Abdul Haque of the Forest department said that a telemetry system should be activated in the province and crops should be monitored according to rainfall and weather conditions.

During the meeting, it was decided that all proposals will be forwarded to Federal and the provincial government to include these recommendations in the forthcoming budget before the budget, and to increase the country’s GDP by giving importance to agriculture.

Professor Dr, Muhammad Ismail Kumbhar, Dr. Jam Murtaza Sahito, and others participated in the Agriculture Pre-Budget session.

Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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