Shahbaz Sharif bent upon improving agricultural yield; Drip-Sprinkler, Tunnel Farming and Solar System promotion envisaged


LAHORE AUG 24 (TNS): Punjab government under leadership of Shahbaz Sharif has brought revolution to agriculture and livestock sectors across the province.

The tireless efforts resulted in fruitful outcome as Punjab Agriculture department had improved agriculture growth rate from 0.27% to 3.46%. Punjab government has spent Rs. 100 billion under ‘Khadam-e-Punjab Kissan Package’ since last two years.

Agriculture is a major contributor to the provincial economy, accounting for over 21 percent of its GDP, providing employment for 47 percent of its work force, and a main source of livelihood and sustenance for the poor.

About 80% of the country’s foreign exchange originates from agriculture, and Punjab contributes over 60% in this. It is a main source of raw material for several industries, especially textile, edible oil, rice husking and others.

Investment in agriculture in Punjab ensures high return, generates employment in rural areas thus curtails rural-urban migration, and can be the most effective way to reduce rural poverty.

The Punjab government has a mission to develop a science-based, vibrant and internationally linked agriculture sector that can not only meet the food security challenges but also compete in domestic as well as in international markets.

Agricultural Department Punjab (ADP) has installed Tunnel farming on 3, 000 acres, Drip-sprinkler irrigation system on 20,000 acres and solar system under 3-year plan (2017-2019) to promote the modern technological farming in the province and to increase the crop yield per acre.

Virtually 50% subsidy has been contributed by provincial government for installing Tunnel farming on 3, 000 acres in Sialkot.  Drip sprinkler system has been installed on 20,000 acres by ADP and 80% subsidy was allocated by ADP for solar system, whereas 20% was contributed by farmers.

These steps are part of multi-billion package announced by Punjab government for boosting agriculture sector. The provincial government has spent Rs.4.76bn for the 3-year plan to enhance the crop yield per acre.

The Punjab province has diverse agro climatic conditions and almost all the vegetable are being produced in the province. But in winter season, the province receives severe cold in the plain areas. Under this situation the production of summer vegetables is not possible in the province of Punjab therefore these summer vegetable can be grown under protected environment known as vegetable farming or off-season vegetable production. The technology is used only for raising the temperature during very cold season.

Tunnel farming has gained acceptance among educated farmers as it provides them with an opportunity to grow vegetables in off-season by using less than 40 per cent water and managing required temperatures by capturing heat during winters. According to the agricultural experts drawbacks in agriculture system have been overcome by growing high value summer vegetables during winter through tunnel farming.

In Punjab, tunnel farming of vegetables has taken root in Arifwala, Mailsi and Vehari and is fast becoming popular in Faisalabad, Jhang, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan and Sialkot, according to officials of Punjab Agriculture Department.

The technology of the Drip irrigation system has been introduced for conserving water and reducing the cost of fertilizers, energy, labor and pesticides.  The system is a targeted water application avoiding unnecessary wetting of non-targeted areas such as plant leaves and reduces water consumption.

The Punjab government subsidized 80 percent of total system cost for installation of Solar System while the remaining costs were contributed by the beneficiary farmers. Let it be noted here that installation of Drip/Sprinkler Irrigation System is pre-requisite for Solar System installation. These measures will be strengthened in the upcoming years.