A meeting of Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research held at Parliament House 

Islamabad, December 31, 2021 (PPI-OT):A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research was held on Thursday at Parliament House. Chairman Committee, Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah chaired the meeting; that was attended by Senator Seemee Ezdi, Senator Sania Nishtar, Senator Kesho Bai, Senator Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar, Senator Kamran Murtaza, Senator Muhammad Akram and senior officers from the Ministry of National Food Security and Research along with all concerned. Senator Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, Senator Fawzia Arshad and Senator Samina Mumtaz were Special Invitees. Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam was present as well.

The agenda that came under discussion entailed fixing a uniform minimum support price for wheat; Urea price control; filling of vacant positions at PARC and progress of the sub-Committee to promote Kitchen Gardening in Islamabad.

The Committee also discussed details of availability of certified wheat seed in view of increasing yield per acre. The matter referred by Honourable Chairman Senate regarding tender for supply of 840,000 exotic olive plants was also taken up by the Committee.

Discussing the measures taken to fix a uniform support price for wheat in Pakistan the Committee stressed the need to formulate a mechanism to ensure that provinces comply. Rising above political differences to ensure the people’s benefit was emphasized. The Committee was of the view that this was the second year that the problem of wheat prices had arisen.

It was recommended that a committee be formed comprising representatives from the Federal Government and the provinces and jointly fix a common uniform support price for wheat before commencement of the sowing season.

Reviewing the reasons for rise in urea prices, the Committee was informed that as per the decision of the Cabinet; Urea Plant would be operational from March to November 2021. However, due to a shortfall in gas that is imperative for urea production, the plant was shut down from June until September. This led to malpractices such as hoarding, price hacks and artificial shortage.

The Committee recommended that an enquiry be held on reasons for the shutdown as this led to a serious crisis in the Agricultural sector of Pakistan. It was asserted that this matter must be taken up on various forums to ensure supply of gas to urea plants so that Pakistan’s agrarian economy is supported to the fullest.

Regarding tender for supply of 840,000 exotic olive plants, the matter was referred to the Ministry that will constitute a committee and will report back to the Committee in days. Reviewing the list presented by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) regarding the vacant positions; the Committee directed that details of marks obtained, interview committee, shortlisted candidates and grade wise postings be submitted to the Committee.

The Committee also showed grave displeasure regarding the publishing of advertisements in newspapers other than the ones specified by the Committee. It was asserted that in addition to English and Urdu, advertisements must be published in regional dailies as well. Considering the progress of the sub-Committee to promote Kitchen Gardening in Islamabad; the Committee lauded the efforts of the sub-Committee and stressed the need for such initiatives to be expanded in schools and colleges. It was asserted that such initiatives will contribute to women’s empowerment in Pakistan.

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