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MULTAN: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Food Security and Research, Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, said on Saturday that PM’s Agriculture Transformation Plan was a revolutionary initiative to shift national agriculture from subsistence to the next level, the commercial agriculture.

Catchline of the plan is 'Agriculture to Food changing Pakistan', he said while addressing a press conference at Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI) Multan.

The seven-year transformation plan would focus small and medium farmers, he said, adding that 65 percent growers have less than 2.5 acres landholding. Only, 26,000 out of 8.3 million growers have over 100 acres land and the rest possessed less than 50 acres.

SAPM Jamshed Iqbal Cheema said that agriculture serves three vital purposes including food, feed and fibre and the fuel (bio-diesel) in case of large scale farming.

He said, 60 percent rural population producing food for all of us needed moral and financial support for their financial stability and avoid their shifting to cities for earning purposes. He said that the income of small growers would be enhanced by 2.5 times in seven years. PM's Transformation plan was meant to strike balance among farmers, consumers, society and processors (industry).

He informed that 44 million ton grain including wheat, rice and maize was being produced in the country and it would be doubled and brought to 84 million ton by virtue of the plan. Cheema said that the fruits and vegetable production would also be enhanced. He said that 10 million olive trees were being planted at Hazara division in KPK and Rawalpindi division which would meet the olive oil need also.

He said that fruit trees would be produced at agricultural areas and millions of trees would be planted under a massive drive.

He said that two oilseed and pulse (Moong) would be cultivated between two major crops including cotton and wheat and added that the production of maize and potato would also be enhanced.

He said that wheat production would also be enhanced.

He said milk was a major food item adding that, on average, every person drinks 200 litres milk and eat 108 kilogramme flour annually. He said there was dire need to further improve cows' breedings to enhance milk production.

He said that 30 million people keep pets cattle and added that cow's milk will be enhanced and brought to 11000 litres.

The SAPM said that the government was going to open 900 stores across the country to save growers from middle men, adding that soft loans would be provided to farmers against their produce to be kept at these 5000-15000 metric tons capacity stores.

He said that banks would provide soft term loans to farmers to help them cultivate next crop.

The grower could sell his produce whenever he wants and he would pay the bank loan, Cheema added.

He said that machinery would be provided to growers and youth to promote fruits and vegetable. He said that private extension service was being introduced at provincial level to provide guidance to growers as private sector would run it and the government would pay.

The government is going to make the information regarding cooking and food part of the curriculum at matric and intermediate, A, O level while universities would be asked to provide maximum information about food.

He said that the each inch of land throughout the country would be brought under use. He informed that 10 new dams were being built and added that the bumper production of six crops was achieved this year.

He said that wheat was recorded one million ton extra from our demand while the government was going to import 3 to 4 million ton wheat more to maintain120-days reserve wheat stock.

He said that sugarcane recorded the second highest production.

He said that government was taking steps for the revival of the cotton and added that all efforts would be made to achieve over 10 million cotton bales this year with a target of 14 million cotton bales in sight for near future.

Cheema said that sugarbeet would be cultivated at one million acres which would help meet the sugar need.

He said that restructuring of CCRI was being reinforced to improve its performance further. On this occasion, Vice President Pakistan Central Cotton Committee Dr Muhammad Ali Talpur, Director CCRI Dr zahid Mahmood and others were present.

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