LAHORE - Punjab government will provide certified seeds to the growers for increasing yields of various crops, Agriculture Minister Malik Nauman Langrial said while talking to a group of journalists here on Tuesday.

“We’re trying to improve the ratio of certified seed for a considerable growth in production starting with the wheat crop this year under a Rs12 billion national package. At present, use of certified seeds for the all-important national staple food is just 17 per cent and the rest of the need is fulfilled by the farming community from the grains they had saved from the previous crop. We’ll try to improve this ratio up to 40-50 per cent for this season. We have convened a meeting with the public and private sector seed companies for the purpose”, he said, adding, this would help gain around 400kgs more per acre yield to better financial position of individual farmers, agriculture sector as well as the national economy.

A similar policy is also being introduced for other important cash crops like cotton, rice, sugarcane and oilseeds, he added.

Council has approved 31 new seed varieties of various crops

The minister said that the Punjab Seed Council has approved 31 new seed varieties of various crops, while many more would be approved for sowing in the next meeting of the body.

The new seed varieties, he claimed, would be heat tolerant. He regretted that the council met here on Monday after a break of almost two years as the previous government kept ignored the agriculture sector. He said the authorities would reject a seed variety if it failed to win approval from all four agriculture laboratories, one of them in private sector, in the province. “But, now a policy decision has been taken that a variety will need to pass tests of any of the approved laboratories so that the private sector may be encouraged to more get involved in research and development work.”

About the Kisan Card project the government plans to launch for providing direct targeted subsidy to the farming community, Langrial said that a campaign for registration of farmers was underway and hopefully the scheme would be formally launched from the third quarter of the ongoing financial year.

“Lack of resources has kept the process for the scheme slower otherwise it will have been launched soon after the budget [for 2019-20].”

The minister said the card would not only be used for providing targeted subsidy to the farmers but also to extend them loan facilities and most importantly for procuring their produce at officially designated rates. He disclosed that with input from farmers the government has decided to undertake as a pilot project an initiative for setting up a dedicated market where certified seed, authentic pesticides and fertilizers as well as farm machinery would be available at subsidized rates. The process for selecting tehsil of a district has been initiated and scope of the scheme would be expanded if proved to be success in the pilot project.