The Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Shaukat Tarin, held a meeting with the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Food Security, Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, on Farm Gate Pricing at the Finance Division.
The attendees reviewed the existing farm gate price mechanism and the problems farmers face when transporting perishable commodities (specifically vegetables and fruits) to the nearest market or first point of sale.
Also discussed in the meeting was the role of the middlemen who make money at the expense of farmers, particularly with small and marginal landholdings.
The Minister for Finance remarked that the biggest challenge in the field of agriculture is achieving economic sustainability and that it is necessary to boost farm productivity by facilitating farmers through interest-free agri-loans so that they get a fair share of their produce.
The dominance of middlemen needs to be curtailed effectively. Minister Tarin added that the elimination of the role of middlemen would enable growers to get a 35 to 40 percent higher return of their agricultural produce.
He also stressed the need to empower farmers by offering interest-free loans, and discussed the modalities for the provision of microcredit to farmers to enable them to purchase fertilizers, pesticides, and other basic inputs through a syndicate of banks and microfinance institutions.
The provision of interest-free loans to small farmers can potentially transform the agricultural sector and end the exploitation by the middlemen. The underlying rationale is to pave the way towards sustainable farming by offering interest-free loans with maximum flexibility.
Minister Tarin called for the working out of a mechanism for the disbursement of microcredit to farmers with smaller landholdings and to discuss it in the next meeting.
He also discussed a multi-dimensional approach to streamlining the agro-industry and underlined the need to build commodity warehouses and cold storage facilities for farmers throughout the country to enable them to transport perishable commodities (kitchen items) to the point of sale in time. Furthermore, he stressed the need to build strategic reserves for essential commodities.
The SAPM on Revenue, Dr. Waqar Masood, and the Secretary Finance Division and Additional Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research also attended the meeting.
Courtesy: Pro Pakistani