Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam has said that the government has taken important steps to make the country self-sufficient in agricultural commodities. Addressing the oath-taking ceremony of Pakistan Agriculture Research Scientists Association (PARSA) at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Imam said the present government has the outset focused on agriculture as 70 percent of the country’s population is dependent on agriculture as well as 45 percent of the employment is related to agriculture. He said the government has increased the development budget of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research from Rs1 billion to Rs30 billion. Other important measures to improve agriculture include the use of hybrid seed technology, genetic engineering, modern technology, protection of water reservoirs, pastures and other agricultural resources, modern breeding of high milk and high meat producing animals, and providing maximum national and international training opportunities to enhance the professionalism of agricultural scientists, he added. He maintained that moreover, ensuring provision of funds for the improvement to the agricultural research institutes of the country is the top priority of the government. The ministry is trying to ensure provision of pension to PARC employees in a special pay scale and that technical allowance should also be given to the technical cadres along-with scientists. Speaking on the occasion, PARC Chairman Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan said that owing to the hard-work of these scientists, Pakistan is becoming self-sufficient in its major food items like wheat, rice, sugarcane, and maize etc. He thanked dignitaries for sparing their valuable time for the ceremony. He assured the minister and the secretary that scientists are always ready to take on any challenge faced by the agricultural sector in Pakistan. He reminded the respectable guests about the current budget deficit of PARC. The newly-elected President of PARSA, Azizullah Shah assured that the association will continue its efforts to promote scientific research and disseminate knowledge at the doorstep of farmers. He demanded the federal minister to get the approval of non-official members of PARC from the Cabinet, approval for permanent members of PARC executive committee and to ensure provision of PARC funds on a regular basis.