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KARACHI: All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchant Association (PFVA), terming the federal budget as balanced, has asked the federal government for a special package and allocation of substantial funds for the development of the horticulture sector.

The federal government has already made commitment in the budget that it would support the farmers by providing pesticides, fertilizers and agricultural machinery with a view to modernize and uplift the agriculture sector.

Waheed Ahmed, Patron-in-Chief of PFVA has said that the government has acknowledged that to control inflation and food security, therefore it is imperative that the agriculture sector should be developed on modern lines to improve yield per acre.

Since Pakistan being an agricultural country is importing food on a large scale and thus the country faces a stiff challenge of shortage of food which indicates our failure in meeting our foods' requirements, he added.

He also appreciated the national agriculture emergency program and allocation of a Rs.12 billion fund for development of the agriculture sector by the federal government in the federal budget.

However, the PFVA former chief has strongly recommended that a minimum of Rs50 billion should allocated for development of the agriculture sector and it should be enhanced to Rs. 100billion subsequently.

Waheed further said that the Research and Development (R&D) is necessary to make the Pakistan self-sufficient in food. "There is a dire need to develop new varieties of foods, agri-produces, edible oil seeds and new varieties of cotton which should have potential to encounter challenges of climatic changes while these new varieties should have high yield per acre," he added.

In addition, irrigation systems are also required to be developed on modern lines with the introduction of modern technology.

He urged that the federal government for a special package by allocating substantial funds for the development of the Horticulture sector which should include greenhouse, controlled atmosphere e(CA), hydroponics and drip irrigation.

Overall, Waheed said that the federal budget is balanced and the government has taken necessary steps to reduce the cost of the manufacturing sector, while the textile industry has been zero rated and no new tax has been imposed.

In the backdrop of severe financial impact on the economy due to COVID-19 by announcement of a balanced budget, it would certainly assist in the economic growth leading to economic stability, he added.

He also urged the provincial governments fir allocation of more funds for the agricultural sector in the budget for development of the agriculture sector compared to the federal government because after the 18th amendment it is the sole responsibility of the provinces to develop the agriculture sector.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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