Lahore : Provincial Minister for Finance Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha has said that Government of the Punjab is going the extra miles to face the most critical challenge in financial Sector that is “Financial Inclusion. For this Purpose we have launched many credit schemes not only in agriculture sector but also in other zones to endorse the SMEs.
We are also engaging the private sector for Micro Financing of small formers. The Government of Punjab under the Interest Free Agri. E-Credit Scheme will provide interest free loans to 500,000 farmers in all districts across Punjab province through selected banks and other financial institutes.
The objective of the Interest free Agri. E-Credit Scheme is to reduce the cost of production for these marginalized farmers and to increase the outreach of formal and digital financial services to meet the agenda of financial inclusion.
She expressed these views while addressing the inaugural session of workshop organized by the University of Queensland Business School- Australia and AGAHE Pakistan jointly on “Creating Wealth in Smallholders’ Farms Through Efficient Credit Systems in Pakistan” at Avari Hotel, Lahore .
Australian High Commissioner H.E Mrs. Margaret Adamson, Pakistan High commissioner for Australia H.E Mrs.Naela Chohan, Secretary Agriculture M.Mehmood Rai, CEO Pakistan Microfinance Company yasir Ashfaq were also present on this occasion.
Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha Said that Agriculture is a significant contributor to Pakistan’s economy, accounting for more than 20 percent of our GDP and employing more than 40 percent of our labour force. Despite having huge potential to contribute to economic development and addressing food security issues, the agricultural sector faces significant challenges.
In addition, food security has become core to ‘Pakistan Vision 2025’ and ‘Punjab Growth Strategy 2018’ policy agenda that embrace new directions to raise productivity of the horticultural sector. Achieving these goals entail addressing smallholders’ needs and the issues they face, especially by providing them better access to finance and developing entrepreneurial skills.
Margaret Adamson Admired the 17 years old positive diplomat relationship between Pakistan and Australia. She said that Australia is not only providing Educational Scholarships but also investing other Sectors including employment generation and women empowerment.
She said that the objective of workshop is to provide a platform for knowledge exchange, discussion and networking focused on smallholder’s access to agricultural finance.
The preliminary findings of the study were also shared, which is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) and implemented in collaboration with Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC). Credit is an important enabler for smallholders’ farm productivity and profitability and can play a vital role in improving food security. Despite the increase in sources of formal and informal agricultural financing in recent years, smallholders still have limited access to credit sources in Pakistan. We will help to fill this gap too.
Naela Chohan said that to enhance international and national development, the Sustainable Development Goals have been accepted by the international community, aimed to eradicate poverty particularly of women.
In this regard, micro-financing in agriculture is now being recognized at the most effective form of financial assistance for development that has its primary objective of alleviating poverty especially of women who are “the invisible farmers”. Governments, donors and NGOs around the world have responded actively with plans and intention to work together towards the realization of these goals.
Muhammad Mehmood Rai and Yasir Ashfaq Also expressed their views.
The event brought policy makers, regulators, financial institutions, NGOs, Academia and many other stakeholders together and provided them the opportunity to meet and share their experience and research interests in agriculture financing