ISLAMABAD: On Thursday, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam said the record production in four major crops would earn billions of dollars foreign exchange for the country, besides generating additional income of around Rs399 billion for farmers. Addressing a news conference along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, he said there was a record production in four major crops including wheat, cotton, rice and sugarcane while the yield of maize also witnessed an increase, though comparatively little. “Cumulatively, there will be around 37 percent growth.” He said the production of wheat increased by 2.2 million tons to 27.5 million tons. “Had we imported this addition wheat, the country will have to spend around over $900 million.” The minister said the production of cotton crops was expected to reach 9 million bales as compared to 7 million bales last year, an increase of 2 million bales. The minister said, if the additional 2 million bales were exported, it would earn around $750 million for the country. Likewise, Fakhar Imam said the rice crop was also witnessing record production of 9 million tons and there were also 2 million tons carry forward stock. “So, the country is in position to export around 8 million tons when local consumption of 3.5 million tons is extracted.” Last year, he said the country had exported $2.1 rice and this time, the exports could reach $4.75 billion, projecting an increase of $2.62 billion extra exports of rice. “We expect China and other rice exporting countries will purchase more.” The maize production also witnessed a little increase and reached 9 million tons form 8.9 million tons. The minister said the sugarcane exports were expected to grow form 81 million tons to 89 million tons. The minister said the agriculture production had increased due to the prudent policies of the government, which ensure an encouraging policy framework. He lauded the efforts of provincial governments, particularly Punjab for this achievement and commended farmers for playing their role in achieving this milestone. The minister said improving the quality of life of the common man was among the top priorities of the government. He said that the government was rigorously working on the promotion of the agriculture sector adding it also wanted to enhance planning and development activities in the sector. The minister underlined the need for increasing the milk processing capacity and value addition to tap the full potential of this sector adding the government also envisaged bringing transformation in animal breeding through various interventions. Earlier, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said with the increased agriculture production, the farmers would get an additional income of Rs400 billion. Elaborating, he said there would be an additional income of Rs118 billion from the wheat crop, Rs136 billion from cotton production, Rs46 billion from rice output, Rs96 billion from sugarcane and Rs 3 billion income from maize.