People in Gilgit-Baltistan have not yet received any Flood Relief- Presidential Meeting

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided on a number of incentives for farmers to enable them to recover the losses caused by floods and grow essential crops to meet the country’s food requirements.

The incentives were discussed at a high-level meeting presided over by President Asif Ali Zardari at the Presidency on Tuesday.

Fears were expressed at the meeting that the country might experience a food crisis in near future because of widespread damage to crops from the floods.

The meeting was informed that over one million people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan had received no relief goods so far because the authorities concerned had failed to reach the areas, a source said.

These families are stranded on mountains and in far-flung areas where rescue and relief teams have no access.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the meeting had decided to encourage farmers to sow canola in flood-affected areas early next month and help them with seed and other inputs and land preparation to make optimal utilisation of land before the Rabi wheat season in November this year.

The meeting also decided to increase the purchase price of canola from Rs1,600 to Rs1,800 per 40kg.

The Solvent Plant Association has already given an assurance to purchase the crop at Rs1,800 per 40kg. Canola cultivation will not only relieve pressure on foreign exchange needed for import of edible oil but also improve fertility of the soil, the meeting was informed.

The meeting was attended by, among others, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Nazar Mohammad Gondal, Mir Humayun Aziz Kurd, Rana M. Farooq Saeed Khan, M. Salman Faruqui and Zaka Ashraf.

The meeting was informed that the canola crop would be followed by cotton. The president advised the government to provide free supply of seed to canola growers and help them to start early next month which is the right time to sow canola.

He asked the Ministry of Food & Agriculture to assess agricultural losses, including the loss of stored seeds and other agricultural items, and suggest measures to compensate the losses during the Kharif crop with the coming Rabi crop.

The meeting agreed that farmers in the affected areas should be provided maximum help in procurement of seed and other required items for their crops.

Mr Zardari asked the president of ZTBL to work out a scheme of providing financial assistance to farmers in affected areas to enable them to grow their crops and compensate their losses.

The Pakistan Agriculture Research Council was asked to carry out a study on the impact of climatic changes in the wake of the unprecedented floods.

Agencies add: Mr Zardari said that Pakistan could take years to recover from the floods. The president expressed concern that militants would try to exploit the chaotic situation in the country.

“I see always such organisations and such people taking advantage of the human crisis,” he said in an interview published in Britain’s Independent newspaper on Tuesday.

“It is again a challenge to not let them take advantage of this human crisis.” Source

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