Shahbaz Sharif said, under Green Tractors Scheme, a total number of 10,000 tractors were distributed. Out of those, he said, 4,500 tractors were distributed in District 13 of South Punjab. He said this while addressing a gathering of farmers at the sports ground of Zakriya University Multan on October 22, 2012.
The Green Tractor Scheme is aimed at promoting mechanized farming in the province and helping the rural youth to better utilize their potential for the promotion of agriculture in the country in order to raise their social status. The chief minister said that the tractors were distributed during fiscal year 2012-13.
According to the Punjab Agriculture Department, agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy but is in shambles due to poor management. Its share of GDP of the country is 21 percent and, along with with agriculture products, forms 80 percent of Pakistan’s total export earnings. More than 48 percent of the country’s labor force is associated with the agriculture sector.
According to a study, 70 percent of Pakistan’s population is directly or indirectly associated with agriculture. Previous governments have promised to uplift the agriculture sector, but unfortunately no sincere effort has been made to this end.
Dr Mughees Uddin Sheikh, former chairman of Institute of Communication Studies at Punjab University, told Truth Tracker that the 15 percent extra quota of tractors given to Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan was a step to strengthen political base in the South Punjab. Shahbaz Sharif in the previous term tried to win support of South Punjab by announcing certain incentives for the region.
To confirm the statement, Truth Tracker contacted PML-N senior leader belonging Southern Punjab, Zulfikar Ali Khosa. He said, “Yes, we have distributed 10,000 tractors during 2012-13 and South Punjab also got more than its due share. There is no doubt about it. You have freedom to check figures from your own sources.”
When Truth Tracker contacted Kissan Board President Sardar Zafar, he also confirmed that 10,000 tractors were distributed by the Shahbaz Sharif government in the previous tenure during 2012-13. He said he did not know whether South Punjab got 4,500 tractors or not.
Talking to Truth Tractor, Punjab Agriculture Forum’s President Ibrahim Mughal said that 10,000 tractors were distributed but South Punjab got only 3,000 tractors instead of 4,500.
Director General Punjab Agriculture Extension Dr Muhammad Anjum Ali who headed the Green Tractor Scheme went into further detail on the phone, perhaps to appease his political boss, and said, “10,000 tractors were distributed in the Punjab and 5,500 tractors were distributed in 11 districts of South Punjab.”
Truth Tracker succeeded in getting original document with complete break-up of tractors for each division and district. The documents contradict the statements of Director General Punjab Agriculture Extension Dr Anjum Ali and Shahbaz Sharif vis-à-vis 45,00 and 55,00 green tractors respectively for three divisions (13 districts ) of South Punjab—-Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan and Bahawalpur. The documents show only 4,066 tractors were given to South Punjab instead of 4500, 5500 or 3000, figures claimed by various stakeholder.
The 2012-13 scheme was announced in June 2012 and was aimed at giving farmers – who own at least 2.5 acres of land – a Rs200, 000 subsidy on the purchase of a tractor. A total of 10,000 tractors were distributed in 2012. Applications were accepted till August 31, 2012.
The process of providing 10,000 tractors to farmers under the “Green Tractor Scheme for Rural Youth” was completed through computerized balloting in 2012. The tractors with a subsidy of Rs 200,000 each were provided to male and female farmers of the Punjab province.
The Punjab government had so far provided a total number of 30,000 tractors during the last four years with subsidy of Rs 6 billion. As many as 257,000 applications were received in the offices of Assistant Commissioners at tehsil levels, out of which male and female farmers of 18 to 35 years age having two and a half acres to 25 acres irrigable land and 50 acre arid land, were considered eligible for the scheme. The tehsil committees, under the chairmanship of Assistant Commissioners concerned, selected 221,000 applications as eligible for the computerised balloting in 2012.
In 2012, tractors were distributed on the basis of population and the South Punjab was given extra quota because it has smaller population ratio.
There is no denying the fact that 10,000 plus tractors were distributed. But South Punjab could not get its due share and got 4,066 tractors. It should be given its remaining 434 green tractors. Truth Tracker acknowledges 100 percent distribution of the tractors and rates Shahbaz’s statement as mostly true.