ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tareen highlighted the importance of curtailing the dominance of middlemen effectively as it “would enable the growers to get 35 to 40 per cent higher returns of their agricultural produce”.
The federal minister was speaking at a meeting with Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, according to a press statement issued by the Finance Ministry. SAPM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, the Finance Division secretary and additional secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research also participated in the meeting.
The meeting reviewed the existing farm gate price mechanism and the problems faced by the farmers in transporting the perishable commodities, particularly vegetables and fruits to the nearest market or first point of sale, it added.
The role of middlemen was also discussed during the meeting who “make money at the expense of farmers, particularly with small and marginal land holdings”.
Tareen said that achieving economic sustainability was the biggest challenge in the field of agriculture and highlighted the importance of boosting farm productivity by facilitating farmers through interest-free agri loans so that they get fair share of their produce.
The finance minister stressed the need to empower farmers by offering interest-free loans.
He discussed modalities for the provision of microcredit to farmers to enable them to purchase fertilisers, pesticides and other basic inputs through syndicate of banks and microfinance institutions.
The provision of interest-free loans to the small farmers would transform the agricultural sector and end exploitation by the middlemen.
The underlying rationale is to pave way towards sustainable farming by offering interest-free loans with maximum flexibility. He directed to work out a mechanism for disbursement of microcredit to farmers with smaller land holdings and discuss in the next meeting.
The minister also discussed a multi-dimensional approach to streamline agro-industry and underlined the need to build commodity warehouses and cold storage facilities for farmers throughout the country, enabling them to transport perishable commodities to the point of sale in time. He stressed the need for building strategic reserves for essential commodities.