Government urged to form agriculture development board
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) former senior vice president Abdul Basit on Saturday stressed the need to take effective measures to ensure food security in the country. While talking to Business Recorder, Abdul Basit touched upon many areas where the government attention is direly needed but his focus was agriculture sector about which he spoke flawlessly and fearlessly. His suggestion about formation of Agriculture Development Board (ADB) was quite impressive and workable.
He said that it was a happy sign that the PM had constituted Business and Agriculture Advisory Committees to overcome the challenges being faced by the two sectors and optimism is being expressed that things would take a positive turn sooner than later. “But I would request the government that instead of reinventing the wheel through such an exercise, the government should constitute ADB on the pattern of Engineering Development Board (EDB) that is an apex body under Ministry of Industries and Production entrusted to strengthen engineering base in Pakistan,” he said.
He mentioned that the EDB has seven government members and 14 private members including two top academicians having related experience and in my view, the ADB should primarily consist of 25 members including top agriculturists from all the provinces, renowned businessmen, vice chancellors of agriculture universities and secretaries of all related government departments.
The proposed ADB should be tasked to review all existing agriculture policies in the country, hold discussions with recognised related private sector bodies before giving final recommendations for implementation. Why all this should be done? He questioned. It is needed to save our agriculture sector that is facing multiple internal and external challenges, he added.
Very recently all of us saw a sudden and unprecedented hike in the prices of almost all vegetables but nobody noticed that what went wrong and what is the remedy? In my opinion, the decision to allow imports of vegetables from India was a deep rooted and well calculated conspiracy against the local farmers, he said. All this is result of our wrong planning because while allowing import of vegetables from India we ignored our farming sector.
He said that recently I was in India and surprised to know that their agriculture sector was exempt from load shedding while industrial sector and domestic users are subjected to load shedding. Indians understand well that the industry can be run on generators while a farmer cannot afford generator. So they are ensuring their food security and we have failed to do so, he maintained. The LCCI former senior vice president also spoke on education and severely criticised mushroom growth of private education institutions in the country. He said that the government educational institutions should be strengthened to deliver quality education.