The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security & Research was held on Wednesday at Committee Room No.4 Parliament House Islamabad. Chaired by Senator Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah the meeting was attended by Senator Seemi Ezdi, Senator Sania Nishtar, Senator Saeed Ahmed Hashmi, Senator Keshoo Bai, Senator Jam Mahtab Hussain Dahar, Senator Hafiz Abdul Karim, and senior officers from the Ministry of National Food Security & Research, IRSA along with all concerned.
Issues taken up included price reduction of DAP and Nitro phosphate; of minimum support price for increased cotton production; briefing of IRSA chairman on water dispute between Sindh and Punjab and measures taken by the Ministry to develop crop zones.
The meeting commenced with implementation status of recommendations made by the committee to the Ministry. It was asserted that a change in role from that of passive data collation body to that of data collection must be ensured. A mechanism must be formulated for this.
The Committee stressed the need for a uniform policy for wheat growth in Pakistan and stressed the need for stipulating a minimum support price for cotton. Measures to motivate cotton growers from switching to other crops were stressed. The Ministry informed the Committee that weak execution and lack of funds were the main issues that have prevented the agricultural sector from attaining its full potential. The Committee was also informed that a system was being put in place to ensure subsidy directly to the farmers. It was asserted that in order to benefit extensively from Pakistan’s agrarian economy it was essential that a departure from traditional agriculture be made to research and knowledge based farming. Upgrading of Human Resource was recommended as well. The Committee strongly recommended that since agriculture constitutes 19 per cent of the GDP and employs 38 percent of the labour force an allocation of PKR 12 billion for agriculture is totally insufficient.
Taking up the issue of water appropriation between Sindh and Punjab the Committee recommended that as per the Indus Water Accord of 1991 it must be ensured that all surplus and losses must be equally shared. According to para 7 of the Accord IRSA may move the Competent Authority for discussion on this issue and progress on this may be sent to the Secretary Committee before the next meeting.