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Farmers need social protection ever more; Sikandar Bosan

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ISLAMABAD:(APS)Oct 16,2015-Ministry of National Food Security and Research celebrated World Food Day in partnership with WFP (World Food Programme), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization ), PARC  (Pakistan Agriculture Research Council) and IFAD (International Fund for Agriculture Development )under the theme “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the cycle of Rural Poverty”.  While speaking at the occasion, the Federal Minister for Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan acknowledged the theme as most appropriate, as farmers need social protection more than ever before.

The Minister highlighted that with the advent of modern agricultural practices scarcity is talk of the past but to recover the cost of production remains a herculean task. The minister added that focus on rural areas, especially agricultural workers at house hold level is imperative to address extreme poverty and food insecurity. We need to step up our efforts for incorporation of social protection agenda into national development strategy.

The Federal Minister further stated that that terrorism and poverty are interconnected. If we are able to tackle poverty, terrorism will die a natural death. The minister highlighted government’s initiatives for agriculture sector development and social protection. Prime minister’s Kissan package worth 350 billion Rupees aims at reducing cost of agricultural outputs and provides compensation to rice and cotton growers on account of steep decline in prices in international market. The Federal Minister mentioned that through Prime Minister Youth Loan Business Initiative, more than 60 % successful applicants sought loan for agribusiness.

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Minister Bosan stressed on provincial governments to realize their responsibilities and spearhead the agriculture initiatives. Increase in agriculture investment, high quality seed, market reforms, trade facilitation is the need of the hour. If it is guaranteed, the farmers will not be asking for social protection. Nutrition, education and shelter is all, that is needed.

The minister acknowledged FAO’s role in bringing technical knowledge to field, developing and improving agricultural practices, supporting policy formulation and implementation. Pakistan and FAO have enjoyed a close partnership since the country joined the organization in 1947. Over the past decade, project deliveries benefiting Pakistan have consisted in national projects for a value of around US $ 293 million, together with regional projects valued at more than US $82 million.

Federal secretary NFSR Seerat Asghar, FAO representative Mr Patrick Evans, Deputy Country Director WFP Mr Stephen Gluning, Country Program Officer IFAD Mr Qaim Shah and Chairman PARC Dr Nadeem Amjad spoke at the occasion. The award winning farmers shared their thoughts as well.

After inauguration of World Food Day celebrations, the minister announced the reduction in prices of fertilizers.  Price of Di- ammonium phosphate will go down by Rs 500/50kg  and Nitrophos & NPK fertilizers by Rs 217/bag.  The federal government’s share in subsidy is Rs 10 billion, Punjab government will contribute Rs 7 billion and Baluchistan government Rs 0.4 billion, whereas the share of KPK and Sind is under discussion. The manufactures are bound to print subsidized price on bags. The minister directed the provincial governments to ensure strict monitoring.

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