Rs16.6 billion allocated for agriculture sector

The Sindh government has allocated Rs16.652 billion for the agriculture sector in the budget for fiscal year 2022-23.

Rs16.6 billion allocated for agriculture sector

The provincial government aims to improve the irrigation system with the financial support of the World Bank under the Sindh Irrigated the Agriculture sector Productivity Enhancement Project (SIAPEP). SIAPEP’s implementation will help in improvement of water courses, installation of high efficiency irrigation systems to conserve the scarce water resource and increase the crop productivity to tackle the issue of food security. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the government also aims to promote kitchen gardening and tunnel farming for vegetable production. Heavy earth moving machinery and drilling rig machines have been provided to the farmers on a subsidised rent for better production.

“Although the Sindh government has allocated Rs16 billion in the budget, which is higher than the previous budget, it is not sufficient as per our needs,” said Sindh Abadgar Board Senior Vice President Mahmood Nawaz Shah while talking to The Express Tribune. “Ground realities have changed, the cost of production is increasing day by day.” He underlined that diammonium phosphate (DAP) prices have increased again, which means the price of DAP bag has doubled, ie around Rs12,000 as compared to Rs6,000 last year. “Same is the case with other fertilisers,” he added.

Urea, on which the government continuously gives subsidy, is available at around Rs2,400 per bag against Rs1,800 just less than a year ago. Expressing concern, he said that small and medium-sized growers will not be able to afford basic nutrients for their crops, leave aside the new technologies for growth. “This will create further imbalance as the government has not paid any heed to the basic structural issues,” he added.

“I do not understand why both federal and provincial governments have not talked about wheat,” he said. “United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cautioned that Pakistan’s wheat yield will decline while our consumption demand is ballooning”. The government should have expedited research work to produce new seeds and improve other factors, Nawaz said. He highlighted that out of the four major crops of Sindh, except for wheat, “we used foreign seeds for all crops, which should never happen; seeds should be tried and tested for their compatibility with the soil of the region, a scientific practice adopted in developed countries.”

To meet the challenge of climate change, projects including transforming Indus basin with climate-resilient agriculture and Sindh Water and Agriculture Transforming (SWAT) project with the technical and financial assistance of World Bank will be implemented in the next financial year, said the chief minister. Under this programme, 12,788 acres of salinity-affected soil in the Left Bank Water Board areas of Sindh will be reclaimed.

Targets included Centre of Excellence for Salinity and Reclamation Research, which will be established in Tando Jam, 784 water courses will be improved, 1,258 agriculture implements will be provided to growers on 50% subsidy and 200 laser land leveling equipment will be procured. The province intends to install 211 solar powered tube wells on subsidised cost. It has also proposed installation of 730 conventional tube wells. The government announced to procure four backhoe excavator machines and to install seven cold storage units.Sindh government has allocated 13 bulldozers to the agriculture sector.

“This is beyond my understanding that why government has allocated money for this heavy machinery now which the province needed 40 years ago when lands where not leveled,” said the Sindh Abadgar Board’s vice president. The province had allocated the bulldozers last year also, he added. Commenting on the Sindh government’s announcement to build seven cold storages, Nawaz said that it is only possible through public private partnership as the government has no capacity to execute the idea.

Although the government has proposed to install six chili dryer and processing units, it should have been better to spread this amount for other horticulture products of Sindh that are normally surplus but could not make it to the market efficiently, suggested Nawaz. Chief Minister during the speech stated that a scheme has been launched to save cotton crop through Management of Pink Bollworm. Essential equipment, materials, chemicals, standards and glassware will be provided to pesticide and fertiliser quality control and testing laboratories in Sindh.

Source: This news is originally published by tribune