‘Govt making all-out efforts to enhance citrus fruit productivity’

ISLAMABAD: National Food Security and Research Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan on Tuesday said Pakistan enjoyed a huge potential in citrus fruit and the government was making all out efforts to enhance citrus productivity and quality.

The minister expressed these views while chairing a meeting of committee constituted by the prime minister on citrus fruit development. The participants had a detailed discussion on the composition of citrus development board. It is expected that the committee would suggest the composition and mandate of citrus development board in the upcoming meeting.

Punjab Agriculture Extension DG Dr Anjum Ali highlighted the salient features of the proposed project on citrus productivity and quality improvement. Citrus production during 2014-2015 was recorded as 2,352,000 tonnes whereas 370,000 tonnes was exported. The DG reiterated that 15.73% of the total production was exported last year, adding that similar trend is expected this year as well.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa representative apprised the federal minister that total area under citrus cultivation in KP is 9,880 acres; production stands at 31,600 tonnes with 3.2 tonnes/acre yield. Measures are underway to increase the productivity and better quality, he added.

The minister stressed that issues pertaining to citrus nursery, best agriculture practices, plant nutrition, pruning, intercropping, mechanisation, drainage, pest control and poor post harvest handling need to be addressed at the earliest.

Bosan directed the authorities to make all out efforts for citrus development and export.

Anjum Ali briefed the minister on undergoing projects in Punjab. He highlighted that incidence of citrus canker in Sargodha has declined from 45% to 20% as compared to previous year because of timely measures by the government.

It was decided that National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) would initiate training sessions for citrus growers on modern agricultural lines for better quality and yield. It was proposed that Citrus Research Institute might be upgraded to centre of excellence for citrus promotion.

The federal minister also constituted a committee headed by deputy food security commissioner to inspect the citrus orchards. Top three growers as per international standards would be awarded cash prizes.

The meeting was attended by Parliamentary Secretary Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, NFSR additional secretary, NARC DG, representatives from provinces, growers and exporters.

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