Published: April 10, 2015

SARGODHA: The government is considering removing 17 percent general sales tax on fertiliser and other agriculture inputs to reduce costs and increase outputs, a minister said.

 The Ministry of National Food Security and Research has proposed the tax cut to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

 “This is government job to make the agriculture business profitable and reduce the cost of production,” said Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, while speaking at an award distribution ceremony for kinnow exporters. 

The ceremony was organised by Pakistan Fruits and Vegetable Association and Plant Protection Department (DPP) at Sargodha, which is the hub of kinnow production in Pakistan with an outstanding share of over 90 percent in total production. The country has exported 350,000 tons of citrus fruits in this season, which is about to end, despite the fact that the fruit was suffering from multiple diseases.

 The county has produced an estimated 2.1 million tons of kinnow this year. The export volume has already crossed the export target for this year.

 The minister said the government has constituted a committee to cut cost of production in agriculture sector. “The committee has been assigned to present recommendations for lowering the cost of production,” he added. The minister said the federal government has also set up a committee to communicate with the provincial governments to cut the prices of agriculture inputs.

 “Cost of production should be reduced to revive agriculture sector that would definitely promote economic growth,” Bosan said. “If general sales and other taxes on agriculture inputs are reduced, it will benefit the growers to a great extent.”

 Sirat Asghar, secretary of the ministry, said China would open its market for Pakistani kinnow next year. “China will be the second biggest export market of Pakistani kinnow after Russia,” he said. The country didn’t export kinnow to the European Union this season due to its strict quality checks and Russia remained the biggest market for the citrus fruit. Moscow imported 100,000 kinnow from Pakistan, which is more than 40 percent of the total exports of 240,000 tonnes so far this year.

 Waheed Ahmed, Patron In-Chief of PFVA warned growers if they did not take appropriate measures to get rid of the diseases like canker then the country export would be affected badly in the next four-five years.

 Ahmed said the government should allocate funds for research and development on kinnow and other produces to do away disease, lower cost of production, and increase production. “The association has involved a number of agriculture universities and research institutes for the purposes of research and development,” he said.