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KARACHI: The government of Sindh Tuesday announced Rs 3 billion to support the agricultural sector to provide subsidies for fertilizer, pesticides and quality rice seeds to the farmers.

Government of Sindh is determined to improving the conditions in Agriculture Sector and proposed to increase allocation for agricultural sector from Rs 14.8 billion to Rs 15.26 billion for the next financial year. In ADP, Rs 2.28 billion was allocated in current fiscal year, whereas an amount of Rs 5 billion is kept in FY 2021-22.

Some Rs 1 billion subsidy will be provided for purchase of Quality Rice Seeds to the farmers with land holding of 25 acres or less.

In addition, Rs 1 billion will be provided on account of fertilizer subsidy to the farmers with landholding of 25 acres or less and Rs 1 billion will be provided as subsidy for Pesticides to small farmers with landholding of 25 acres or less. While, Rs 500 million is earmarked Benazir Women Agriculture Workers Program through Labor Department.

Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy with over 60 per cent of our population deriving their sustenance from it and Sindh contributes 15 percent to 17 percent of wheat, 33 to 45 percent of rice and 25 percent of sugarcane of national production.

Sindh Government undertook a holistic plan to improve water availability for competing uses in light of increasing population and increasing needs for climatic adaptation. The holistic plan includes investment in barrages for extending their lives, investment in major canal infrastructure for reducing conveyance losses, investment in on-farm management and improved water productivity.

Sindh government is considered further investments to integration and incentivising farmers to progressively revert to agro-climatic zones for improved water productivity and crop yield. Regions of Tharparkar, Kacho and Nara region are devoid of surface water irrigation. Government envisions Reni Canal to improve water availability in Nara region and build storage and recharging dams for improving water availability in Tharparkar and Kacho areas. Following are the achievements of agriculture sector in CFY.

According to Chief Minister Sindh, some 6757 hectares land has been leveled through bulldozers operations up to 31st March, 2021. Some 184 watercourses improved under additional lining.

Under World Bank Assisted Sindh Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Enhancement Project (SIAPEP) project 709 Watercourses have been improved during 2020-21 and 778 Watercourses are under improvement. Around 38 Natural Enemies Farm Reservoirs (NEFRs), 3,868 Kitchen Gardens and 06 KIOSKs have been established. Moreover, High Efficiency Irrigated System (Drip System) has been installed covering 1,845 acres till 30th April, 2021 whereas 1054 acres are under installation.

Agriculture technologies are being demonstrated to the farmers through Demonstration Plots and Farmers Field Days. Awareness to farmers is being provided through electronic media by scroll messages. Agriculture Extension staff and farmers are being trained to update their knowledge for better delivery of extension services.

Introduced Farmers Field School (FFS) approach and have established crop clinics at various places and 105,000 farmers enlisted on Digitization.

According to budget document around 1,447 and 355 Pesticide samples were drawn during 2020 and 2021 (up to 17th May, 2021) respectively. Action has been taken on the substandard samples as per law.

Successful locust surveillance and control operation was carried out during 2019 to 2020 and crops were saved from the locust attack. ICT Agricultural Extension Center has been established at Hyderabad and sub centers at Mirpurkhas, Larkana and Sukkur for advisory service to farming community.

Mobile Phone applications are developed for farmer advisory service & field staff online field activities reporting. Applications are available in Google Playstore. WhatsApp Group "AgriExtSindh" has been established by which more than 40000 farmers are being benefited.

World Bank Assisted "Sindh Agricultural Growth Project (SAGP). This project has provided various equipment/implements on 30%-70% and 50%-50% co-sharing to more than 10,000 Farmers for promoting mechanized farming. It has reached more than 105,000 Farmers through Farmers Field Schools and Subsidized Equipment throughout 18 districts of Sindh. Moreover, quality of dates has been maintained and market access has been enhanced.

The Government of Sindh intended targets for agricultural sector for next financial year. This included, 125 watercourses for Additional Lining of Already Improved Watercourses in Sindh and High Efficiency Irrigation System (Drip Irrigation) will be installed on 175 farms (2,450 acres).

Being a predominantly agricultural country, water is the lifeline of our country, and the Sindh Government is mindful of this reality. During current fiscal year, some 52 schemes are in progress and targeted to be completed by June 2021.

Among them 7 schemes pertain to lining of channels, smooth supply of irrigation water to tailenders and improve the irrigation & drainage system in the Province. Moreover, 36 schemes of lining of canals will line 680 miles of canals funded by ADB. Government planned for conservation of irrigation water through lining of canals and distributaries. Some 2261 km of canal lining have been constructed and 4000 watercourses in irrigation and agriculture departments, respectively.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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