Punjab Agriculture Secretary Wasif Khursheed has said that 21 laboratories of the provincial agriculture department have gained approval for ISO 17025 accreditation.
In a statement on Friday, the secretary said these laboratories were conducting tests on vegetables, fruits, other crops, water, soil, fertiliser and pesticides.
"ISO/IEC 17025 is a company-level accreditation based on standards published by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) titled General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories," he said.
The secretary added that farmers, government and semi-government organisations, importers and exporters, private seed and fertiliser companies could avail the facility after payment of a fixed testing fee.
He highlighted that the Punjab government was taking all necessary steps to enhance cultivation and production of traditional and non-traditional crops.
"Farmers of Thal district including Layyah, Bakhar and Mianwali are getting portable solar irrigation systems installed at subsidised prices," he said.
"A sum of Rs300 billion is also being spent under the Prime Minister's Agriculture Emergency Programme to increase production of wheat, rice, sugarcane and oilseeds, besides other initiatives."
Khursheed added that Rs3.68 billion was being utilised to install solar-powered drip and sprinkler irrigation systems at 50% subsidised rates to cover an area of 20,000 acres. Loan disbursement worth Rs49 billion among small farmers was also being ensured in a single installment instead of three to facilitate them, he said.
"Agricultural machinery and tools are also being provided at subsidised rates to promote mechanised farming," he said. "Farmers are being provided on-farm training with the use of modern machinery."
The secretary added that globally recognised Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training sessions were also being arranged for the farming community to ensure that their agricultural produce could penetrate the lucrative international markets.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2020.