Dr Sumera Shams
In 2021, the Agriculture Department initiated “Introduction of Certification Facilities for Quality Assurance & Creation of Market Linkages for Agriculture Interventions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa” project with a total cost of Rs. 286.527 million to improve product quality and ensure food safety and hygiene through various international certifications and also to provide market linkages and promote export of agriculture produce and products as per WTO standards.
Under the Reforms initiatives of the present government, the USAID Firms Project was engaged for reforming the Agriculture Marketing System in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, based on Rapid Agriculture Market Assessment and Good International practices. The policy is based on competition, free environment for marketing and regulation of private Agriculture Markets through a provincial marketing board.
The current provincial government has given top priority to the agriculture sector along with Health and Education. For the first time, the Southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been given attention, with mega projects under way to convert 1 lakh 63-thousand-acre barren land to agriculture land. The feasibility of this mega project, CRBC lift Canal project has been conducted, and within 9 months the tender process will roll out. The second leg of this scheme, Gomal Zam Dam is also under way. Mahmood Khan, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in his recent speech on the Floor of the House appreciated the Ministry of Agriculture that made the development of these mega projects possible.
The current government, realizing the importance of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of Agriculture Transformation, and the successful implementation of Sehat Insaf Card as a part of investment in Human development allocated an additional budget to include the introduction of the Agriculture card, which will provide Rs 1.0 Billion Subsidy on Agriculture Inputs for farmers in the province. For provision of subsidy on inputs the Kissan Card has been introduced which will facilitate the farmers to apply costly inputs at reasonable prices.
The initiatives and policies of the current government have brought out the potential of the Agriculture sector, providing job opportunities and minimizing food insecurity in the province. The establishment of research centers in various attached departments of the Department have provided advanced methods and techniques to improve their productivity. The current government has made the service delivery regarding agriculture, livestock and fisheries accessible and smooth.
Like the rest of the country, agricultural development is of critical importance for the province’s economic self-sufficiency and also for the food security of residents of the province. Agriculture is central to the economic and cultural lives of more than 32 million people living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), contributing 24% to provincial GDP, and employing the largest portion of the labour force of KP at 44%, while livestock and agriculture together provide livelihoods to 83% of the people living in rural areas.
To augment the Agriculture and Livestock sector through advance research and academia as well as skilled labour force, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa establish two new Agricultural Universities one at D.I Khan and one at Swat, so that the residents of Southern and Northern regions which are the potential area for Agriculture and horticulture crops could also have specialized academic Institutions for the youth of the Province.
Another milestone which the KP Government has achieved is the establishment of the first Veterinary Sciences University at Swat which will produce graduates within the sector for providing services to the society.
Under the leadership of Chief Minister Mehmood Khan and the dedication of his team, the PTI provincial government has taken numerous key steps to develop and modernize the agriculture sector. The initiatives and policies of the current government have brought out the potential of this sector, providing job opportunities and minimizing food insecurity in the province. The department was once considered to be among the neglected ones, but soon after the Chief Minister Mehmood Khan has taken the charge of his august office, his special attention for reforms in Agriculture sector, the department is now the one among all line departments, utilizing their developmental budget with 100% margin & has been appreciated to top of the list. In 2019 the provincial Agriculture department has made it to the list of top 10 departments & the previous year by making the history by achieving the top of the list due to not having only 100% utilization of the allocated annual budget but even the surplus of over & above utilization to their achievement list as well. The establishment of research centers in various attached departments of the Department have provided advanced methods and techniques to improve their productivity. The current government has made the service delivery regarding agriculture, livestock and fisheries accessible and smooth.