ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel has recommended that the government waive all long-term agriculture loans given by commercial banks and the Zari Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) to small farmers in flood affected areas.
The National Assembly standing committee on food and agriculture also suggested declaring all affected regions as calamity-hit.
At a meeting here being chaired by MNA Javed Iqbal Warraich on Thursday, the committee directed the ZTBL to provide loans to the farmers on a war footing for the revitalization of the agriculture sector.
It said the amount of $90 million granted by the World Bank be given to ZTBL for the provision of soft loans to the farmers at one per cent interest rate.
The committee directed the ministry of food and agriculture to the implement crop insurance policy announced by the prime minister in 2008.
The committee also took note of media reports against the chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and directed the ministry to present its facts before the panel.
The government should provide Rs30 billion to ZTBL so that it could start providing soft loans to the farmers, the committee recommended.
The committee members have asked that the ministry devise a viable plan for the rehabilitation of the agriculture sector after a detailed survey of the flood affected areas.
The committee said that the ZTBL should devise a plan, making agriculture lending easily accessible. It also emphasized on the early provision of agricultural loans to small and marginalized farmers, whose sole dependence is on farming.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2010.
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