Pakistan awards farmers subsidies for tractor purchases

Arrangements for the delivery of 5,000 tractors to farmers selected by lottery under the Benazir Tractor Scheme (BTS) have been completed, it was announced on Oct 1.

Kuku Malik

2009-10-19

LAHORE — Arrangements for the delivery of 5,000 tractors to farmers selected by lottery for subsidies under the BTS have been completed, said Chaudhary Muhammad Zaka Ashraf, president of Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd. (ZTBL), on Oct 12.

The tractor lottery covers the entire country, including Federally Administered Areas (FATA), Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The BTS targets farmers whose land holdings are small, and only farmers without tractors who have proof of land ownership are eligible to participate.

In its first phase between, July 21 and Aug. 5, the government issued subsidies to 10,000 farmers to purchase tractors. More than 190,000 farmers applied for them.

“Farmers should contact the bank branches where they submitted their applications if they have any questions. Names of farmers who won subsidies have been sent to local bank branches all over Punjab,” Ashraf said. He added that, “Branches will hand over the receipts for subsidies to farmers within a month, and tractor companies [will provide] the tractors as soon as possible.”

The BTS was introduced as a way to stimulate improvements in farming practices, with a view to increasing output and improving the quality of harvests.

Sources in the Planning and Development Department said they asked the Ministry of Agriculture to invite applications from deserving farmers. A sum of US$16.3 million has already been earmarked for the BTS for the 2009 to 2010 period. According to the procedure, farmers who win the lottery will be free to choose the model and make of tractor. After finalising the purchase deal, the applicants will submit the sales invoice to the Ministry of Agriculture, which will pay the subsidy amount.

The Punjab government, under its Green Tractor Subsidy Scheme (GTSS), has already delivered at least 9,430 out of 10,000 tractors to farmers. The Punjab government has advanced a subsidy of Rs 200,000 ($2,400) per tractor to farmers under the GTSS.

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