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The Punjab government has proposed to allocate a sum of Rs 15,500 million for the agriculture sector for work on 19 ongoing and 27 new schemes in the budget for the year 2019-20 with an aim to transform Punjab's agriculture into a market-driven, diversified and sustainable sector through integrated technologies, transparency and value-for-money.

Discussing allocation objectives, the budget document said the government wanted to increase food production to improve food quantity, quality and nutrition, introduce diversity through higher yields and better crop mix, increase farmer's profitability to raise living standards of the farming families with increased participation of rural women and youth and conserve agricultural resources with efficient use of land, water and labour deployed for agriculture, enhance sustainability and resilience in the wake of climate changes and implications thereof, enable private sector participation in agriculture value chains with increased investment, technology infusion and management resources, enhance competitive position of agriculture sector in line with global and domestic market demands, including getting benefit from China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) opportunities, paradigm shift from traditional to precision agriculture, increasing diversification and value addition through investment in high value agriculture.

The department intends to achieve targets such as expansion in agriculture produce markets, improve access and quality of agriculture inputs and encourage change in crop mix. Another target set for the next year is to move towards climate smart and regenerative agriculture with emphasis on horticulture, cotton and high value agriculture.

These targets will be achieved through improvement of unimproved watercourses up to 50 percent, additional lining of already improved watercourses up to 50 percent, and installation of high efficiency irrigation systems (HEIS) (acres) 10,000, plantation of olive plants on farmer fields 2,500 acres, award of small matching grants on farmer fields spreading over 75,000 acres and provision of implements for enhancement of wheat, rice, sugarcane productivity. The government also intends to increase area under oil seed by 80,636 acres at a cost of Rs 3,069 million.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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