ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam on Wednesday said the government was working to ensure availability of quality seeds, development of cold storage facilities and farm mechanization to enhance per-acre output of major crops. Addressing the international conference on “Best practices for building sustainable food systems in OIC Region”, he said Pakistan was blessed with natural resources and ranked among the top ten procedures of wheat, rice, sugarcane and different fruits as well as vegetables. The conference was organized by the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) in collaboration with various international research organizations to discuss issues and challenges faced by the agriculture sector and shared expertise to address them. Imam said despite having one of the world the best alluvial soils and the best irrigation system, they could not fully harness the potential of our agricultural sector, adding that lack of quality seed, cold storage facilities, farm mechanization, trained manpower, post-harvest management, processing industries, and digital agriculture platforms were the main hurdles in local agriculture development. Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said the government has prioritized the agriculture sector and initiated working to diversify the sector, by enhancing focus on high value horticultural crops, oilseeds and pulses. The government was also taking keen interest in livestock breed improvement, water conservation and promoting farm mechanization, he said. He added that it was supporting farmers by ensuring quality seed of improved varieties, providing farm machinery at subsidized rates and disseminating improved production packages. Despite COVID pandemic and locust attacks, the production of wheat, rice, maize and sugarcane has increased to a record level, which was a result of prudent agriculture policies of the current government. Fakhar Imam apprised the forum that this year was a remarkable year for the agriculture sector of Pakistan, adding that the economy got a boost with the record agricultural production, indicating a lesser reliance on food imports in 2021-22. Besides, he said, due to favorable policies and interventions, the exports of agro-commodities have also increased significantly to help attract a handsome amount of foreign exchange for the country. Considering the role of provinces, he said, the government was also engaging all stakeholders for building a sustainable food system in Pakistan, adding that these strategic initiatives would help improve the public health situation, which was reflecting high rates of stunting.