ISLAMABAD: The government has fixed a target of agricultural credit for 2016-17 at Rs 680 billion in the ’11th Five Year Plan’. According to sources, keeping in view the enthusiasm of the banks, push by the State Bank of Pakistan and support by the government, it is expected that this target would be achieved. Sources said the investments are being made for water resources development to ensure the needed additional water supply adding that public sector is investing on conservation and efficiency improvement of water use. Sources said the government is committed to provide ample finances for agriculture operations adding that the PSDP allocation for water sector is Rs 31 billion for 2106-17 besides the investments of the provinces. They said that about 134.56 MAF water was expected to be available for agriculture purpose in this year whereas the current decline in diesel prices has reduced operational cost of farming. However, as a long term strategy, investments are being made in sources of alternative energy which is solar and high efficiency irrigation systems in the provinces to economise the water use in agriculture of the country. Sources said that the agricultural mechanisation is facing multiple challenges related to farm machinery and equipment, infrastructure, technology, markets, operations, legislation, financing, policy framework. Moreover, land holdings, cropping patterns, market price of crops, and availability of labour and cost of labour are the major factors deciding the agricultural mechanisation. These challenges pose a serious impediment to the growth of the industry. The reduction in import duty to nine percent is expected to improve high quality equipment availability in the market. Sources said the consultation to rectify the technology issues with tractor manufactures that will settle and as a result of which better quality equipment would become available adding that less domestic production of farm machinery or implements in last year will affect the mechanisation momentum, however, the high-end food markets are very stringent with regard to quality and safety of the food items. Sources further said that to improve the regulation, a system is being established by the name of National Animal Plant Health Inspection Services (NAPHIS). The NAPHIS Bill is under consideration of the Parliament for enactment and it would be done in 2016-17 to positively affect the food exports in coming days. Pakistan’s geographic position provides a scope for considerable opportunities to boost livestock especially in the case of ‘Halal food’. The potential to enhance the quality of livestock, poultry, fisheries and sea foods production and trade will be exploited by developing veterinary infrastructure, improvements in gene pool, standardisation of feed, development of skill of manpower, effective enforcement of legislation, adoption of global best practices, compliance to international standards, advancement towards value addition and provision of standardized and efficient veterinary services. Livestock production targets for the fiscal year 2016-17. Sources said that the focal point for food and agriculture at federal level is the Ministry of National Food Security and Research and for this the allocation in the PSDP 2016-17 was made at Rs 1,520 million. While highlighting the important schemes of ministry, sources said that these include, promotion of olive cultivation on commercial scale in Pakistan, establishment of Horticulture Research Institute, Khuzdar, Balochistan, establishment of Livestock Research Institute, Turbat, Balochistan, indigenisation of hybrid seed production for enhanced crop production, monitoring of crops through satellite technology phase-II, Pak China Cooperation for Agricultural Research and Development (PCCARD), research for Agriculture Development Programme, Islamabad, strengthening of Coastal Agriculture Research Station Bhawani, Balochistan, up-gradation and establishment of animal quarantine stations in Pakistan, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a cow disease, surveillance and capacity leading to O/E negligible risk country status for Pakistan, strengthening and up-gradation of agriculture and livestock research system of Arid Zone Research Institute, Umerkot, Sindh, agricultural information portal, commercialisation of soybean crop, milk and meat supply chain improvement and risk based control of foot and mouth disease.