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Punjab launches Rs6b scheme for rice productivity


LAHORE:

The government of Punjab has launched a project worth Rs6 billion for 15 rice growing districts of the province to promote mechanisation, consumption of certified seeds and responsible use of pesticides in a bid to meet the Import Tolerance Standards set by the European Union and the United States.

Under the “National Programme for Enhancing Profitability through Increasing Productivity of Rice”, farmers are receiving subsidy on the purchase of certified rice seeds as well as awareness of responsible and judicious use of pesticides.

“It is a complete package extended by the government to enhance rice productivity in a sustainable manner,” said Director Agriculture (Extension) Gujranwala Javed Iqbal while speaking at the signing ceremony for a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Friday.

“The aim of the scheme is to promote mechanisation by subsidising (50%) use of different machines including transplanters for increasing plant population and other agricultural implements.”

Iqbal added that apart from transplanters, equipment like nursery raising machines, specialised rice harvesters, rice straw choppers, rotavators and power sprayers would also be provided at 50% discount. The scheme targets to transform the rice industry into an ICT-supported mechanised segment.

Speaking on the occasion, Galaxy Rice Managing Director Shahid Tarer said that 55% of Pakistan’s economy relied on agriculture and rice crop was of vital importance as it earned foreign exchange worth billions of dollars for the country. “Monitoring of pesticides residue in rice crop is important,” he said. “Import Tolerance Standards are being revised periodically by the European Union, US and Gulf countries.”

He said Pakistani products were exported to high-end markets, which made it necessary for the country to keep the pesticides residue below the Import Tolerance Standards set by these nations.

Syngenta Pakistan General Manager Kazim Hasnain said that helping farmers to produce safe food was the top priority of his firm. “We train over 400,000 farmers every year on the responsible use of pesticides that not only helps them stay safe but also contributes to protecting the environment and improving the quality of produce,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2021.

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