ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Food Security and Research Jamshed Iqbal Cheema Tuesday said Agriculture Transformation Plan, scheduled to be launched on July 1 (Thursday), envisaged to protect growers, consumers, and local industry by introducing the latest intervention for achieving sustainable agriculture development and reducing reliance on imported food items. Talking to APP, he said the transformation plan aimed at up-scaling local agriculture research and development system, enhance food processing facilities, besides ensuring social and financial justice. Under the programme, the government intended to turn grey land into green by bringing the maximum land under cultivation of different staple food crops and fruit orchards in a bid to generate more income for the farm communities, he added. He said the government was determined to greenify 220 million acres of land that would not only supplemental to the local food production for human beings but also help to produce nutrient-filled fodders for local livestock that was undernourished and their average output was lowest as compared with the other countries. In order to implement the plan in letter and spirit, he said agriculture land mapping had been completed in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan, and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and identified areas for the production of different high-value crops, livestock, fruits, and vegetables. The GB had huge potential in the production of livestock, fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants, adding 281 trout fish farms would be established there which would be increased to 1,000 to meet the demand of big cities and exporters. The areas of KP including Swat were the best for the production of fruits, olive, soya bean, and maize, he said adding these areas would be turned into a hub of the production of above-mentioned commodities that would also increase the income of farmers. The Potohar region was identified for the production of world-class honey and bee colonies would be established there. The people would also be allowed for honey bee forming in Margala Hills and brands with names of reputed institutions to be launched to encourage the consumption of pure honey. For Punjab, he said three targets were set in the ‘Agriculture Transformation Plan’ including increasing the cropping intensity from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent that would help produce more crops during the season. To this affects early maturing verities of wheat, rice, sugarcane, and cotton would be introduced, he added. In order to enhance the output of local milk and meat, local breeds of cows and goats would be improved through artificial insemination, he said adding the government had allocated Rs14 billion would also be spent to benefit both, consumers and producers. The special assistant further said the government would establish nine Kissan malls, which would be comprising 10 acres in order to eliminate the role of middleman whose exploitation was harming the interest of growers as well as consumers. He said the government had allocated funds for the said facility, which would be developed in public-private partnership and State Bank would provide 70 percent of resources. To involve the huge bulge of youth in agriculture business and processing, storage facilities having the capacities of 5,000 tons to 15,000 tons would also be established in the premises of agriculture malls and installed fruits and vegetables grading and processing units. Jamshed Iqbal said agriculture sector development was the topmost priority of the current government and it had allocated abundant resource Rs62 billion for the development of the sector in the current budget, which was stood at only Rs1.6 billion in the financial year 2017-18. Besides, he said the government had also earmarked Rs10 billion for the research and development to improve the output of certified high yielding seeds of all major and minor crops and increase the livestock production to bring it at par with international standards. Highlighting achievements of the current government, he further informed that water conservation was on the top in government’s agriculture reforms agenda, adding so far 735 small and medium size dams had been constructed in Balochistan that would help to bring more area under crops production, specially to produce seeds of different crops. He said under the transformation plan, special focus on cotton crop enhancement would be paid by promoting the crops in areas adjustant to Cholsitan , Thar and Balochistan that would help increase the output of major cash crops.