KARACHI: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) & Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari inaugurated ‘Seed Subsidy Programme: Reimbursement for wheat Seed’ at the CM House and transferred Rs8.39 billion to Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) which started disbursing an amount of Rs5000 per acre to the small growers holding agricultural land up to 12 acres.
The programme was organized by the agriculture department in collaboration with BISP and was attended by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, MPA Faryal Talpur, former chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Sindh PPP President Nisar Khuhro, Federal Minister Shazia Mari and Advisor to the CM Manzoor Wassan, provincial ministers, MPAs, MNAs,.
Earlier, Bilawal Bhutto, through a presentation was told that the floods of 2022 destroyed 3.6 million acres of Kharif crops out of 4.4 million acres. The farmers suffered a loss to the tune of Rs. 421 billion.
The Chief Minister said that the disruption of the crop cycle has threatened our food security, livelihoods, and economy. He added that the Sindh government, on the directives of the party leadership planned to support the farmers in the form of enhancing the support price of wheat and Agriculture inputs to revive the agriculture sector.
Shah said that Rs 13.5 billion were required to finance the seed subsidy program. “The Sindh government contributed Rs8.39 billion and the federal government had committed Rs 4.7 billion,” he said and added due to funding deadlock with the federal government and lack of authentic data on farmers, the initial program of providing free seed was revisited when the sowing season had commenced.
The CM said that the implementation strategy was changed from the provision of free seed to reimbursement of the cost of seed at Rs 5,000 per acre.
Shah said that backing out of the federal government from providing their share constrained his government to limit the subsidy to the farmers holding the land up to 12.5 acres in the first phase and 25 acres in the second phase.
He said that he was keen to reimburse the amount in lieu of seed to all the farmers, but the federal government did not fulfil its commitment, therefore his government has limited the reimbursement to the small growers holding 12 acres in the first phase.
Advisor on Agriculture Manzoor Wassan talking about the challenges to implementing the subsidy program said that there was no authentic data on farmers. He added that a massive number of people across the length and breadth of the province reached out for data collection.
He said that the development of a Mobile App and training of concerned staff on data collection and verification of the App was a big challenge also. Meanwhile, the verification of land documents by farmers was another issue but all the problems and challenges were met and developed a data bank of the growers holding up to 12 acres and 25 acres.
Secretary Agriculture Aijaz Mahesar briefing the chairman said that the World Bank helped them to develop a mobile App.
It was pointed out that committees were formed at the Tapa level for the verification of land records.
Federal Minister Shazia Marri said that BISP has set up 110 Centres at the Taluka level in partnership with Habib Bank Limited to disburse the cash through mobile accounts, after biometric verification on site.
She said that the provincial government has transferred Rs 8.39 billion to BISP out of which Rs 4.227 billion would be disbursed in the next 10 days.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023