Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam on Friday said that the government was striving to ensure a proper rate of returns to farmers for their produce to improve their living standards as well as maintaining sustainable agriculture growth in the country. Addressing a press conference along with Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister for Industries Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Imam said that special focus was being paid on up-gradation of research institutions to bring the quality of local scientists at par with international standards for benefiting local extension and growers. He said that proper policies of the current government were bearing results as all major crops like wheat, rice, sugarcane, maize and other minor crops witnessed significant increase during the last season, adding that due to timely announcement of minimum support price of wheat, local grain output increased by 2.2 million tons. Meanwhile, other crops including rice output increased by one million tons, maize by 700,000 tons and sugarcane output also increased, he said adding that due to sustainable wheat output, local demand and supply would likely to remain in a smooth position. The government had announced intervention price for cotton crop after eight years, he said, adding that it would encourage and protect the local farmers and help in enhancing its output as cotton was an important cash crop of the country and a vital source of raw material for the local industrial sector. Imam said that the government was striving to ensure the provision of inputs at affordable rates, besides extending the outreach of research and extension services to the doorstep of farmers, adding that it was expected to achieve 10 million cotton bales during the current season. The minister said that the agriculture sector was badly neglected by all previous governments and was not included in the national mainstream from the last 20 years, adding that the agriculture sector was growing with an average of four percent from 1960 and during the last 20 years it was gradually on a declining trend. During the last financial year, despite COVID-19 Pandemic, under the special directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, budgetary allocations for the agriculture sector were increased, adding that measures were taken to promote mechanisation of the sector. The government was also providing subsidies for the construction of water channels, purchase of laser land levelers, adding that in order to involve the large bulge of youth in agriculture, agriculture loans would also be provided under Prime Minister Kamyab Jawan Program.