OUR STAFF REPORTER LAHORE - Provincial Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Forests and Cooperatives, Malik Ahmed Ali Olakh has said that despite unfavourable condition, average cotton production in Punjab has remained much better than the neighbouring country India. He said that Rawalpindi, Jhelum and Gujranwala districts had been ranked the best for achieving 122 percent, 118 percent and 106 percent target of wheat cultivation, respectively. He said that preparations are being made on emergency basis for the provision of quality seed for the next cotton crop. He said the Punjab Agriculture Department has so far successfully achieved 95 percent wheat sowing against a total target of 16.89 million acres of land in the province. He hoped that overall target would be achieved soon. He said first time in the history, all desirous farmers were being granted loans on the spot on easy terms under one window operation. The minister said that subsidy of billions of rupees was given to the growers for the purchase of agriculture implement, including tractors. Ahmad Ali Aulakh said fertilizers had been made available to all farmers at their doorsteps. He hoped that production target would be met through proper crop management and plant protection. He expressed these views while addressing officers of agriculture department at Central Cotton Research Institute Multan. He said that a policy is being evolved for purchase of wheat while the storage capacity of wheat will be increased to 100,000 ton in Southern Punjab. He added that the government has provided seed to the farmers free of cost for cultivation of wheat at 1 million acres of land. The Minister said that Punjab government is facing some difficulties due to increasing prices of agriculture inputs and owing to which desired results are not being yielded. He said that recent increase in fertilizer prices is unjustified upon which Punjab government has recorded its protest with federal government and also demanded to reduce the prices immediately. He said that import of 20,25,000 ton fertilizer from Saudi Arabia next month will help stabilize prices of fertilizer. He said that an international cotton conference is being arranged for evolving a comprehensive strategy for the next cotton crop. He said besides provision of quality seeds, an effective campaign would be launched to create awareness among farmers about latest agri recommendations. He said that plant protection measures were being taken according to the pest and disease situation by adopting integrated pest management approach. He said Jhelum, Khushab, Bhakkar, Jhang, T.T Singh, Narowal, Sheikhupura, Okara, Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Multan, Khanewal, Layyah, DG Khan and Bahawalpur districts would definitely surpass the 100 percent target while other districts except Chakwal and Attock, had achieved of 86 percent target. Ahmad Ali Aulakh said weeds cause damage to wheat crops considerably and a campaign would be launched to control it by motivating the farmers to adopt both culturable and chemical methods. He said efforts were also being made to bring as much as possible cultivable waste land lying in different parts of the province especially the Riverine areas for increasing wheat production through horizontal expansion of acreage. He said that availability of canal water for irrigation was another important factor for timely sowing of wheat, proper tillage and application of fertilizers.