September 27, 2023

Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir hands over the inaugural scroll to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during the inaugural ceremony of the Green Pakistan Initiative in Islamabad on July 10, 2023. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Monday said that the Green Pakistan Initiative would eventually bring about the second agriculture revolution, in addition to the creation of four million jobs in the country.

Addressing a seminar on agriculture and food security, he said agriculture is the backbone of the country and the farmers worked hard to provide food to millions of people and they would be remembered in history as builders of Pakistan.

He said the farmers had the due right to avail themselves of incentives for the agriculture sector and it was the responsibility of the government to provide them all possible assistance for overall development and progress. “Farmers work hard but it is common knowledge that they are facing a lack of resources,” he added.

The prime minister said growth in the agriculture sector would definitely bring Pakistan at part with developed countries.

He said hard work is imperative to ensure progress of Pakistan, adding the green revolution in 1960s was due to the introduction of new varieties of seed, building of dams and canals and modern agriculture practices in the country.

He said farmers should get more profits than the cost of production of their crops including wheat. The government did increase the support price of wheat which led to record produce of the commodity, he added.

He was hopeful that due to the incentives given by the government, cotton produce would also enhance.

He said it was the responsibility of the government to provide standard seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to the farmers and equip them with the latest technology.

Shehbaz Sharif appreciated the new agriculture initiative for giving real-time information about any pest attacks.

He expressed concern over the adulterated drugs given to the farmers and warned of strict action against the culprits.

He lauded the vision of Army Chief Syed Asim Munir for development of agriculture sector in the country. “We have to implement the vision for agriculture through collaboration among federal and provincial governments, agriculture departments and research institutes,” he added.

He said the government was ready to fund the agriculture research centres, adding unfortunately there had been no worthwhile work due to the culture of favouritism.

Shehbaz Sharif said state-owned enterprises were losing Rs600 billion annually. Pakistan imported $4.5 billion of palm oil which was a burden on the national economy, he noted.

There was a time when Pakistan was producing more cotton than its neighbouring country but then it lost the track and was now producing less of staple crops, he said adding Pakistan could not afford more foreign loans but was forced to save its economy from default by getting loans from friendly countries, he added.

The PM said gulf countries were ready to invest in the agriculture sector and bring modern machinery to boost crops production in the country.

Pakistan needed political stability to attract investment as in an unstable environment, investors shied away, he added.

Pakistan could attract investment of $40 to 50 billion in the years ahead and it could make food exports to the gulf countries which were presently importing food products worth $40 billion.

He was of the view that Pakistan had to compete with the world and increase its exports and added the economy would get revived in the next two years.

“It is demand of our national security that the country’s food security and economic security should be strengthened,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir attended the seminar as the guest of honour.

He also addressed the participants and assured the people and the government of Army’s full support for all the initiatives being taken under the ambit of Special Facilitation Investment Council (SFIC) including Green Pakistan Initiative.

The seminar was attended by federal ministers, chief ministers of Punjab and Sindh province, chief secretaries of provincial governments, agricultural experts and farmers from all the provinces.

Foreign dignitaries and potential investors and experts from United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, China, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkiye and various other countries also attended the seminar.

Sequel to the inauguration of Land Information Management System – Centre of Excellence (LIMS – COE), Green Pakistan initiative is being undertaken to enhance the food security of Pakistan, increase exports and reduce the agriculture related imports, thereby, contributing to the national economy.

Agriculture experts and farmers highly appreciated the government’s landmark initiative and Pakistan Army’s special focus on revolutionizing the agriculture sector by promoting modern contemporary technology, collaboration of public and private sectors and trickling down dividends to the local farmers to alleviate poverty.

The participants hailed the conduct of seminar and its attendance by experts, government representatives and potential investors as a success and first step towards bringing positive change in the agriculture and livestock sectors.

The participants, especially lauded the Pakistan Army’s efforts in boosting the national economy by focusing on this critical sector. Later the prime minister visited the agriculture and livestock exhibition as well.

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