Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail on Friday announced that his government had allocated Rs21 billion for the next fiscal year in order to increase the crop yields and uplift the livestock sector.

Most of the agriculture sector stakeholders have termed the federal government’s announcement of some key measures in the budget for 2022-23 much positive for improving the country’s dilapidated agricultural infrastructure.

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail on Friday announced that his government had allocated Rs21 billion for the next fiscal year in order to increase the crop yields and uplift the livestock sector.

The figure did not match the expectations of many farmers, but other measures taken by the government sent good signals to the farming community.

Since agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy, the Ministry of National Food Security and Planning Commission, in consultation with the provinces, have devised a three-year growth strategy to boost the sector.

The objectives of this strategy are to enhance production, increase farmers’ income, counter the negative effects of climate change, and promote smart agriculture, self-sufficiency, value addition and agro-processing.

An amount of Rs11 billion has been allocated to modernise the agriculture sector, increase the use of machinery for laser levelling of land, modernise the irrigation system, provide quality seeds and promote the export of agricultural products.

Furthermore, in order to facilitate the agriculture sector, it is proposed to withdraw the sales tax on the supply of tractors, agricultural implements, and various seeds including wheat, rice, maize, sunflower, canola and rice.

In the budget, the government said that it was striving to strengthen the agriculture sector.

Various relief measures have been taken for farm mechanisation and logistics.

In order to give relief to the farmers, customs duty exemption has been extended further on agricultural machinery pertaining to irrigation, drainage, harvesting/ post-harvest handling and processing, greenhouse farming, plant protection equipment as well as machinery, equipment, and other capital goods for miscellaneous agro-based industries.

The stakeholders said that it was the dire need of the hour to use modern techniques for increasing the per-acre yield, adding that the government allocated record funds for research and development activities to put the agri-sector on modern scientific lines by using hybrid seeds.

Pakistan Hi Tech Hybrid Seed Association (PHHSA) Chairman Shahzad Ali Malik hailed the prudent decision of withdrawing 17 per cent sales tax on all kinds of seeds.

“It will boost agriculture production and help meet the ever-increasing food staple needs of the growing population in the wake of the hovering threat of food insecurity,” he said.

“We have been demanding this exemption to boost our production to keep at a par with our competitors,” he said.

“We were convincing all concerned authorities that the levy of 17% tax on all kinds of seeds was an injustice to poor farmers.

” Now, the withdrawal of ST on seeds will fully encourage the farmers, especially rice growers to use the best quality hi-tech hybrid seeds which will definitely increase yield double to triple times, he added.

He said hi-tech hybrid seed technology has revolutionised farming especially rice growers with an excellent yield which in return will increase not only their profitability but boost exports, said Malik.

The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad President Khalid Khokhar said that though this budget for agriculture seems to be positive for a while, we still have no clue on how the ordinary farmer can reduce its cost of production in these inflationary times.

“We still do not have any clue if the government will provide some sort of subsidy on electricity rates and on fertiliser, the main cost for any farmer,” he said.

Despite this, the decision to exempt of levy on all kinds of seeds and on-farm machinery will help a lot for us to regain our lost momentum, said Khokhar.

Nevertheless, the FPCCI Standing Committee on Agriculture’s former chairman, Ahmad Jawad said that the government has allocated Rs21 billion to enhance the production of agriculture and livestock during the fiscal year 2022-23 which should be at least Rs50 billion.

“We should understand that without agriculture our economy can’t transform”, he said, adding that “all major intervention areas for the revival of agriculture sector is still under federal government”.

FPCCI official appreciated that customs duty on agriculture machinery was removed which was long-awaited issue.

He further expressed that “we expect that the government may announce subsidy on agriculture financing for the transformation of the sector but no such announcement should be made which is disappointing”.

This news was originally published by The Express Tribune.

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