Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam on Monday said the government has planned to spend Rs 53.5 billion this year 2021-22 on agricultural development and reforms to enhance the agriculture growth in the country. The government has earmarked Rs 12 billion for the agriculture sector in the budget 2021-22, and apart from this, negotiations are underway with the Ministry of Finance for additional Rs 25 billion and Rs 16.5 billion for development in various areas of this potential sector, Syed Fakhar Imam said this while addressing the National Assembly session here. The Minster said, in order to increase research development in the agricultural sector, we need to pay more attention to agricultural universities for modernizing the agriculture curriculum in the country. Further enhancement of research in the agricultural sector, especially the adoption of seed quality and other technologies is top priority of the government, he said. Syed Fakhar Imam said that agriculture was the backbone of the country’s economy, as the growth of 38 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GSP) and 19 percent of the country’s employment generation were related to this sector. He said that agriculture had a huge future all over the world and the government was committed to meet the global and regional standards in the sector. The Minister said the Prime Minister Imran Khan has given due importance to agriculture and during COVID -19 pandemic, the government has provided a huge incentive to the farmers. This is a paradigm shift in the agriculture sector; the government is committed to enhance the productivity in the agriculture sector through the use of innovative approaches and modern technology in this sector, he expressed. The Minster said the government has imported some wheat in the past and now has planned to maintain, ‘Strategic Reserve’ of different food grains to use in crisis situations. “We need top scientists to introduce scientific reforms in the agriculture sector to achieve the agenda of food security in the country. Now the government has a long, medium and short term plan to achieve self reliance in food to enhance the food exports”, he said. Syed Fakhar Imam said that cotton was a major commodity for value addition in the textile sector for providing raw material for the main exporting textile sector depending on the production of the cotton adding that Pakistan was on the way to research seeds in different crops and in this regard, the government wanted to enhance the capacity of our universities and research organization. He said that now regional and global competitors in cotton production, who are heading the cotton production in the world, are using modern technology for enhancing production. Pakistan needs to use innovation and technology in four major crops production, including wheat, rice, maize and sugarcane to enhance the production in the agriculture sector. He said the government is working on organic farming in the pattern of European Union which has made tremendous success in organic farming, adding that the government has decided to promote soybeans in the country by cultivating it in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa(KPK) province. Meanwhile, the National Assembly has approved two ‘Demands for Grants’ worth Rs 25.13 billion relating to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for the next fiscal year 2021-22 and also rejecting all 142 Cut Motions moved by the Opposition parties to reduce developmental expenditures for various projects and schemes. Parliamentary Secretary Finance, Zain Hussain Qureshi moved the Demands for grants one-by-one in the House, chaired by Speaker Asad Qaiser who allowed maximum lawmakers from the Opposition benches to argue in favor of their Cut Motions.