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PM Shehbaz announces ‘magnificent’ relief package for farmers worth billions of rupees

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahbaz Shareef On Monday announced a relief package worth billions of rupees for farmers after cataclysmic floods badly hit the agricultural sector. in reducing the prices of DAP  upto Rs 2.500

“I have come to terms with the fact that the country’s progress is directly proportional to the development of Pakistan’s agricultural sector,” the prime minister said while addressing a press conference alongside federal ministers and members of the government’s economic team.

Unprecedented flash floods caused by historic monsoon rains have washed away roads, crops, infrastructure and bridges, killing over 1,700 people and affecting more than 33 million, over 15% of the country’s 220 million population.

Final estimates put the damage from Pakistan’s recent deadly floods at more than $30 billion, the planning ministry’s Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report stated, adding that the reconstruction needs are over $16 billion.

According to the report, agriculture, food, and livestock suffered losses worth $3.7 billion (Rs800 billion).

Climate-induced flooding across Pakistan has destroyed agriculture resulting in a decrease in the production of major crops. Sugarcane production has been reduced by 8%, rice by 40.6%, and cotton by 24.6%.

The premier said for the ongoing fiscal year, the government will provide loans worth Rs1,800 billion to the farmers — four times more than the preceding year.

“As you all know, the incumbent finance minister Ishaq Dar is quite strict and he will ensure that all the amount is provided to the farmers,” PM Shehbaz said, highlighting that the commercial banks avoid giving loans to small farmers and entrepreneurs and look for secure investments.

The PM said the markup on the loans taken by farmers belonging to flood-affected areas had been waived off and for this, the government has allocated nearly Rs11 billion.

The Centre and smaller provinces will also provide more than Rs8 billion to small farmers in flood-affected areas, he said, adding that the government would also provide loans worth Rs50 billion to youngsters living in rural areas and are willing to become professional farmers.

Earlier  the National Flood Response and Coordination Center (NFRCC) was informed on Tuesday that urea/DAP was abundant for the Rabi crop in the country while wheat reserves were also sufficient for the country’s needs.

At that time , out of 6,215,327 metric tons of wheat reserves at the national level, Punjab has 3,067,435 MT, Sindh has 865,584 MT, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 96,282 MT, Balochistan has 49,630 MT and Pasco has 2,136,396 MT.

He said that the support price of wheat is determined by looking at the cost of production including seeds, and fertilizer so that the farmers get adequate profit.

Additional Secretary, Ministry of Industries & Production told the forum that the required quantity of urea/DAP for the Rabi crop is available in the country and there is no shortage. The tender for the import of 300,000 MT is already under process.

He said that 3870,000MT of fertilizer for Rabi crops will be produced locally while at present, the fertilizer companies have reserves of 374,479 metric tons in stock.

Ahsan Iqbal said that provincial governments and district administration should play their role to ensure a timely and low-cost supply of fertilizer to farmers. He said that the concerned authorities should take strict action against the Urea/DAP hoarders.

The process of wheat seed supply for Rabi crops to the flood-affected farmers was also reviewed in the session, the forum instructed the provincial governments to ensure the establishment of facilitation centers at the tehsil/taluka level for the seed supply.