Caretaker Interior Minister Senator Sarfraz Bugti has ordered the constitution of a subcommittee to investigate the exclusive awarding of tenders for olive plant imports to a single company over the past five years.
The Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research, presided over by Chairman PML-F Senator Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah, raised concerns about this matter during a meeting at the Parliament House.
Chaired by JUI-P Senator Kamran Murtaza, the subcommittee will delve into the circumstances of the repeated tenders awarded to a single company within two months and present its findings.
The meeting commenced with an extensive discussion on the scarcity of fertilizers for farmers in Sindh, highlighting numerous complaints received from farmers across the country.
The resulting shortage of wheat crops in Sindh raised concerns, with the black market price soaring to Rs. 5,600 per 50kg bag, well above the regulated rate of Rs. 3,560. The committee directed the ministry to urgently collaborate with stakeholders to address this critical issue.
Expressing further apprehension, the Senate panel addressed the non-receipt of cotton cess from textile firms over the past five years.
With arrears exceeding Rs. 3 billion, officials were directed to liaise with the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) to resolve this matter, emphasizing its impact on crop research and delayed payments to Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) employees.
The committee also learned about two new wheat varieties developed by the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC).
The chairman suggested compiling a list of progressive farmers for better engagement and proposed a monthly newsletter to keep farmers informed about agricultural developments.
The committee advised PARC to connect with farmers’ associations in Sindh and Punjab, seeking a report from PCCC on the availability of the new cotton varieties in the market.
Attended by Senators Sania Nishtar, Seemee Ezdi, Jam Mahtab Hussain Dahar, and caretaker National Food Security and Research Minister Dr. Kausar Abdullah Malik, the meeting concluded with a call for action.
A day earlier, the caretaker national food security and research minister directed PARC to establish a body for the permanent recruitment of scientific staff, emphasizing the need for a plan to provide opportunities for scientists in their homeland rather than serving abroad.