LAHORE           -           Punjab Chief Secretary Major (retired) Azam Suleman Khan reviewed different initiatives in agriculture sector in the province including provision of facilities and training to farmers, use of technology to enhance production and profitability of commodities, public-private partnership, and internship programme for graduates. The meeting was held at the agriculture department here on Wednesday.

Provincial Minister for Agriculture Noaman Ahmad Langrial also attended the meeting that took important decisions about improving water management and administrative affairs of fruits and vegetable markets, besides increasing production of agricultural commodities like pulses, honey, Tulsi, Saunf, Kalvanji, Ispaghul, and Mushrooms.

The Chief Secretary ordered the agriculture department to take concrete steps for executing the Prime Minister’s special package so that its benefits could reach farmers as well as general public.

He also issued directions regarding measures to fight locusts’ attack in Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan, saying that help of the federal government would be sought to carry out aerial spray in the affected areas.

Secretary Agriculture Wasif Khursheed briefed the meeting that initially an internship programme is being started at a cost of Rs 200 million for agri graduates of 10 Tehsils, who would be paid a stipend of Rs 35,000 each per month. These interns would impart training to farmers about high-value agriculture and methods to enhance profitability, he added.

During the meeting, the Chief Secretary was informed that a project worth Rs 25million had been finalized to enhance honey production through use of modern technologies. The Secretary Agriculture said that at present 104 fruits and vegetable markets are fully functional in the province and his department had established 32 farmers’ platforms in Model Bazaars and 50 in these fruits and vegetables markets where 169,845 maunds of commodities had been sold and as many as 1,685,573 consumers got benefited.

He said that a campaign against adulteration in pesticides and fertilizers is underway in the province. The officials conducted at least 4,095 raids and sealed 15 factories besides confiscating adulterated pesticides and fertilizers worth Rs 168million. Also, cases against 624 adulterators were registered in addition to imposition of a fine of Rs 24million, he maintained.

The Chief Secretary assured the provincial minister that all relevant departments would extend full cooperation for initiatives in agriculture sector so that the government’s policy on agriculture could be implemented.