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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin underlined the need to boost farm productivity by facilitating farmers through interest-free agri loans, so that they get fair share of their produce.

He stated this during a meeting with Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema on Farm Gate Pricing.

The meeting reviewed the existing farm gate price mechanism and the problems faced by the farmers in transporting the perishable commodities, particularly, vegetables and fruits to the nearest market or first point of sale.

The role of middleman was also discussed during the meeting, who makes money at the expense of farmers, particularly, with small and marginal land holdings.

The Finance Minister stated that achieving economic sustainability was the biggest challenge in the field of agriculture.

“There is a need to boost farm productivity by facilitating farmers through interest-free agri loans, so that they get fair share of their produce.

“The dominance of middlemen needs to be curtailed effectively. By eliminating the role of middlemen, the growers would get 35-40 percent higher return of their agricultural produce,” he added.

The finance minister stressed the need to empower farmers by offering interest-free loans.

He discussed modalities for provision of micro-credit to farmers enabling them to purchase fertilizers, pesticides and other basic inputs through syndicate of banks and microfinance institutions.

The provision of interest-free loans to the small farmers would transform the agricultural sector and end exploitation by the middlemen.

The underlying rationale is to pave way towards sustainable farming by offering interest-free loans with maximum flexibility.

He directed to work out a mechanism for disbursement of micro-credit to farmers with smaller land holdings and discuss in the next meeting.

The finance minister discussed a multi-dimensional approach to streamline agro-industry.

He underlined the need to build commodity warehouses and cold storages facilities for farmers throughout the country, enabling them to transport perishable commodities (kitchen items) to the point of sale in time.

He stressed the need for building strategic reserves for essential commodities.

SAPM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, Secretary Finance Division and Additional Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research also participated in the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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