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Dire need to strengthen coordination

Devolution of agriculture to provinces hurting agro-sector: official. PHOTO: APP

Devolution of agriculture to provinces hurting agro-sector: official. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: A joint sitting of National Assembly and Senate Standing Committees on National Food Security and Research (NFSR) recommended the government to strengthen coordination between provinces and centre with regards to agro-related issues. Consequently, government was advised to establish a high-powered federal committee for determining and maintaining the prices of major crops in the country.

The meeting was held in the headquarters of National Agriculture Research Council (Narc). NFSR Federal Secretary Sirat Asghar gave a briefing to the joint committees over the past performance of the agriculture sector.

The committee further sought to extend the credit facility by Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) for farmers and establishment of a dry port in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) for processing and marketing of horticulture, which are wasted owing largely to a dearth of such facilities.

The committee also urged the food ministry and Pakistan Agriculture Research Council to focus on the public-private sector to generate resources to further invest in the development of agricultural products that utilise modern technology and seed variety.

Additionally, the joint sitting urged the premier to immediately convene a meeting for the National Food Security Council, which had, despite a lapse of years since its formation, failed to even hold its first meeting.

In his presentation, the federal secretary blamed the devolution of agriculture to the provinces, under the 18th Amendment, for adversely affecting the agriculture sector due to a lack of coordination between the centre and provinces. Additionally, he blamed the provinces for not allocating sufficient funds towards agriculture.

He said that various offices and wing in the ministry were either abolished or had been devolved to the provinces, but the provinces have failed to establish these offices.

The federal secretary briefed the committee that about 50% of agricultural products were being damaged, including Rs22 billion worth of dates in Balochistan and Rs35 billion worth of fruits in G-B due to non-availability of the transport and processing facilities.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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