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Cabinet may okay Benazir Tractor Scheme today
 admin May 3, 2010, 05:28:22 AM 

ISLAMABAD (May 06 2009): The Cabinet is likely to approve Benazir Tractor Scheme on Wednesday, according to which farmers would be provided tractors at subsidised rates. "We have proposed that distribution of tractors should be on the basis of constituencies, to ensure transparency.

It has also been recommended that preference of farmers to choose specific make/model of the tractors should be honoured," said an official of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Minfa). while talking to Business Recorder. An important aspect of this scheme is that the affectees of Awami Tractor Scheme Phase-II, who neither received the tractor nor received payment they had made, would be given preferential treatment, without undergoing the process of balloting, he said.

The official said that to show the government\'s commitment to turn around agriculture sector, a package has been prepared by the government to provide 20,000 tractors at concessional price to farmers. The number of tractors in operation is around 400,000, resulting in per hectare horse power (hp) availability of 0.90, against the required power of 1.4 hp per hectare as per Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations recommendations.

The number of additional tractors required to achieve this ratio is 200,000. It has, therefore, been proposed that a tractor scheme, namely "Benazir Tractor Scheme", envisaging supply of 20,000 tractors countrywide be launched to support precision agriculture farming in the country.

According to official documents available with Business Recorder, the scheme had been finalised in consultation with all stakeholders. The government\'s share would be up to 50 percent of the cost of tractor, subject to a maximum of Rs 200, 000 per beneficiary.

Under the scheme, 20,000 tractors would be supplied to farmers owning agricultural land in Pakistan. The population would be the criterion for distribution of tractors among federation units. Minfa has proposed that tractors should be allocated through open computerised balloting on the basis of National Assembly constituencies\' allocation of quota to the directly elected MNAs or partial quota to MNAs and partial balloting.

The scheme is proposed to be implemented through Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL). A policy guideline committee, headed by Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture, Nazar Muhamamd Gondal, has been suggested to co-ordinate and work out modalities/procedure and for removal of bottlenecks in the implementation of the scheme.

The scheme is expected to cost Rs 10 billion, out of which the government and beneficiaries\' share would be Rs 4.00 billion (Rs 200,000 per tractor/beneficiary) and Rs 6.00 billion, respectively. Applications for 20,000 tractors would be invited through network of ZTBL. Farmers would have the choice of booking a tractor of their own choosing.

Minfa is of the view that launching of the scheme would help in poverty alleviation in the rural areas and boost agriculture production in the country. Minfa has suggested that Finance Division should arrange and transfer lump sum funds amounting to Rs 4.00 billion (non-lapsable) to ZTBL for arranging supply of 20,000 tractors on concessional price to beneficiaries. This would give a boost to the productivity enhancement campaign of the government.

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