LAHORE  -   Punjab Agriculture Minister Malik Nauman Ahmad Langrial Saturday said the rice crop not only fulfills nutritional needs but also a good source of earning the foreign exchange. He said the agriculture department was providing guidance to the rice growers to meet the production target this year. According to a press release issued here, he was addressing a seminar, organised jointly by the Punjab Agriculture Department and Pakistan Basmati Heritage Association in Gujranwala. He said that during 2018-19, 2.19 million tonnes of rice had been exported, through which some $1.04 billion forex was earned. The minister said this year it was expected that the export of rice would increase by $2 billion.

He said, “This year rice is cultivated on an area above 4.7 million acres and its production target had been set at 3,992 million metric tonnes.” Langrial said that the government had taken various farmer-friendly steps in the light of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision and added that agriculture sector was among the priorities of the government. Despite financial problems, the government had allocated good amount for development of the agriculture sector in provincial budget 2019-20, he added. Pakistan Basmati Heritage Association’s Shahid Tarar said that the association’s basic aim was to protect Basmati rice and to ensure responsible use of certified poisons.