KARACHI, April 25: Of 18,506 small growers who entered a draw to win tractors on subsidised rates under the Sindh government’s Prosperous Sindh and Prosperous Hari programme, as many as 6,000 were chosen at a ceremony held at the Chief Minister’s House on Wednesday.

The draw was performed by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah.

The growers are being provided a total of Rs1.6 billion subsidy, between Rs0.2 million and Rs0.3 million on each tractor.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that as agriculture was the backbone of the country’s economy, the government was doing a lot to increase yield of various crops. It was for this reason that Sindh had to import wheat three years back was not only meeting its need in wheat, sugar and other crops but was also in a position to export.

The chief minister called upon investors and agriculturalists to encourage agro-based industries, which was essential for progress of the province.

Referring to the complaints about an increase in prices of fertilizers, seeds and other inputs, Mr Shah asked for suggestions from the Sindh chamber of agriculture to bring down the prices.

He said the federal government was insisting on levying agriculture tax but the Sindh government was not in favour of imposing tax at the rate applicable on industrialists, as there were other taxes on agriculture. He said instead of slapping new taxes there was a need to focus on fair collection of taxes across the board.

About water shortage in the province, he said this shortage was temporary and more water would be available next month.

In reply to a question, Agriculture Minister Syed Ali Nawaz Shah told Dawn that the government was encouraging small growers to adopt modern technology to increase production.

He said half of the 6,000 tractors were reserved for the farmers who had up to 25 acres of agricultural lands while the remaining were for those who owned more than 25 acres.

Chamber of Agriculture President Dr Nadeem Qamar and Sindh Abadgar Board President Majeed Nizamani highlighted problems of the agriculture sector.

Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Aijaz Ali Khan explained the policy of the department and stated that Rs650 million had been earmarked as subsidy to the agriculture sector.

Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Information Minister Shazia Marri, Adviser Zubair Motiwala, Chief Secretary Raja Mohammad Abbas and others were present on the occasion.

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