MULTAN: Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Food Security Jamsheed Iqbal Cheema Monday said the PTI-led government had built 735 dams across the country in three years.
Addressing a press conference at Central Cotton Research Institute, Multan, the SAPM said water level has improved in dams. He said the PTI has constructed 735 small and big dams that are operational.
He said the PTI was constructing seven new dams in FATA areas. Moreover, the PTI has made 70 percent Gomal dam operational. Earlier, addressing cotton stakeholders at cotton revival meeting, he said measures were underway for the rehabilitation, revival and promotion of cotton crop and improvement of research institutes to enhance per acre yield in cotton growing areas.
He said such steps would not only increase cotton production in the country, but will also address the issues of all cotton-related stakeholders on a priority basis. Cheema said they would complete the process of reconstitution of Pakistan Central Cotton Committee by the end of this year and they have allocated Rs 1 billion for the reorganisation of PCCC.
The TORs have already been prepared for this and besides, the government is planning to hold an urgent meeting with the representatives of APTMA to recover more than Rs 3 billion. He expressed hopes that soon the research institutes will improve and the cotton research system will be strengthened through prompt payment of PCCC cotton cess. For this he said the current situation of cotton is much better than last year and they will achieve the target of more than nine million bales of cotton this year. He said the crop had not suffered much damage this year. The months of August and September are very important for the cotton crop. Farmers should take care of their cotton crop in consultation with cotton experts, he maintained.
He said in the recent budget, the government has set aside Rs 63 billion for agricultural development. Of this, Rs 10 billion has been allocated for research only, he said. He said the government would continue all possible efforts to make the cotton crop a success. Sugarcane, maize and wheat have the highest production in the history of the country. Sugarcane crop is the second largest crop in the history of the country. He said Rs 1,100 billion has been shifted in the agriculture economy.
The government has set aside Rs 4.5 billion for the purpose that if the prices of cotton start falling below Rs 5,000 per maund, the Trade Corporation of Pakistan will intervene and buy it itself.
Besides, farmers are being given subsidies of Rs 3,900 per acre for cotton, he said. He warned the MEPCO representative present in the meeting that if the farmers were sent extra electricity bills, it would be unbearable for the government and they would not tolerate this omission in any case. The officers will be dismissed through strict enforcement. In addition, the government will take special measures to ensure bringing down the price of DAP to Rs 4,500 per bag.
The situation, power supply and supply of pesticides were also discussed in detail in the meeting. South Punjab Secretary Agriculture South Punjab Saqib Ali Oteel, Director CCRI Dr. Zahid Mahmood, Cotton Commissioner Dr. Khalid Abdullah, DG Extension Dr Anjum Ali Butter, DG Pest Warning and Quality Control Dr Muhammad Aslam, Chairman Cotton Research and Development Board Bilal Israel, Chief Executive Kenzo AG Asif Majeed, Prof Dr Iqbal Bandisha besides cotton researchers, other officers of Agriculture Research and Extension Department, Irrigation Department, Federal Seed Certification, Director General Pest Warning and Quality Control, MEPCO, PCP Apart from A, APTMA, PCGA, FPCCI and other private and public sectors, representatives of farmers’ organisations also participated.