Agri projects under Pak-US Dialogue to start from November : Gondal

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Food and Agriculture, Nazar Muhammad Gondal said on Monday that implementation process of approved agricultural development projects under Pakistan-US Strategic Dialogue would start from next month (November). The Minister said focus of the dialogue was on increasing wheat and cotton production and controlling their diseases in Pakistan, water management and water shortage, provision of seed and fertilizer to help boost the agricultural sector.

Giving details about the dialogue particularly on agri sector in a talk with a news channel, he said allocations were also approved for various agricultural projects including nine million dollars for wheat production and rust disease prevention, nine million dollars for cotton production and disease prevention, nine million dollars for prevention of food and disease in livestock and some other programmes.

Nazar Gondal, who was also part of the delegation that attended the Dialogue in Washington, said the projects would also be financed under Kerry-Lugar Bill and USAid.

“We had informed the US our needs and they tried to meet our demands as per their resources. We have always talked about trade not aid. We are trying to further strengthen our trade with US,” he said, adding that during dialogue, mangoes export to the US had also been accorded approval.

Answering a question, he said grants for water management and water shortage projects had already been approved and even allocation for these projects had been earmarked. The implementation work on these projects would start soon, he added.

Nazar Gondal said Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is supporting Pakistan in providing fertilizer and seed. The FAO would provide fertilizer for cultivation of canola in 30,000 acre while it will provide seed for wheat.

When asked about flood losses, he said during dialogue with the US, this issue was discussed in detail and Pakistani side provided them the entire estimates and details of agri losses in the affected areas.

He said flood has caused around Rs. 281 billion crop losses. Losses to irrigation system and water channels were also in billion of rupees.

He said a summary has been prepared to provide amount to the farmers in flood affected areas for land preparing, adding decision has already been taken by the ECC to provide them fertilizers and seed free of cost.

Answering a question, he said during strategic dialogue Pakistan provided the US information about losses of floods and managed to realize them our problems.

“We have informed them about our losses, we appreciate their support. Pakistan has suffered huge losses due to flood and it is also trying to facilitate the farmers within its own resources as well,” he said.

Regarding crop insurance, the Minister said during the present regime all the agricultural loans provided to farmers were insured as per policy. The farmers in affected areas who availed insurance protected loans would be facilitated by the companies, he added.

He said the meeting with US President Obama was planned in which all issues were discussed.

Replying to another question about meeting of PPP and PML (Q) representatives, he said the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was pursuing its policy of reconciliation which was a legacy of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. “We are taking it forward,” he added.

He also acknowledged package announced by EU, saying this was a great success of the democratic government.


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