Experts have called for reforming agricultural policies, terming it deficient area for which researchers and policymakers should join hand to face challenges of food insecurity and to address the issue of farming community. It was echoed at the second meeting of Council of Research and Policy, held under the umbrella of US Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) in Agriculture and Food Security, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.
Chairing the session, former National Assembly Speaker Fakhar Imam urged think-tank and researchers to come up with viable policy solutions to the problems like low productivity, high cost of production, marketing, water scarcity, nutrition, urbanisation and decreasing agricultural land to ensure the food security. He said that the country was having the lowest water storage countrywide of only 30 days and the area must be addressed.
He said that it was not a rational decision taken in 1960s to separate research from the education. Declaring the research as an integral part of education, he called for re-engineering the mechanising by creating strong linkages between farmers, extension and universities to find out the solution to the agricultural problems. Punjab Agriculture Secretary Muhammad Sheharyar Sultan said that 95 percent of farming community comprises small farmers having the land less than 12.5 acre.
He added that progressive farmers were getting the 50 mounds of wheat compared to average wheat production 30 mounds. It means we have technology but there are some other issues, he said, adding that it is a challenge to make the agricultural farms viable at par with developed countries. He added that a large number of country’s population was facing the malnutrition and stressed upon the need on food fortification.
The government is making all-out efforts for the development of agricultural sector, he said, adding that Kissan package is an initiative that would help solve the problems of farming community and uplift the sector. He said that a project had been started to convert the waste water into the useable water
UAF Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan urged the scientists to develop climate changes tolerant varieties as it had started havoc with the agrarian productivity. He said that this year reduction in the cotton is the question mark on the agricultural sustainability.
He called for promoting the precision agriculture with demonstration that will not only increase productivity but also reduce the cost of production. He said that social component of CAS research work would be more strengthened. He called for ensuring the tangible results on seed technology, vegetable, fodder and soybean. He also directed to include the nutrition as an independent topic in the research work of CAS. He said that development model of University of California named One Health must be replicated in Pakistan to address the issue of food security and malnutrition.
Professor Dr Jim Hill from the University of California Davis said agriculture is the backbone of Pak economy which was contribution to the 21 percent to the gross domestic product. He said that USAID had established three CAS in Pakistan including Agriculture and Food Security; Water; and Energy worth 90 million dollar. He said that through the CAS in Food Security, besides the research, the capacity building of the UAF faculty and curriculum reforms were also being made.
Former Punjab Agriculture Secretary Arif Nadeem said that pink bollworm was serious threat to cotton and it is playing havoc with the crop. He said that due to climate changes, the cotton production has faced 35 percent reduction. He urged the scientists to find the solution of the pink bollworm which is more devastating than CLCV. He said that this year, reduction in cotton has cost the country Rs 35 billion.
Farmer Associate CEO Afaq Tawana said that it was prerequisite to take measures for water pricing and to increase the abayna to avoid the wastage and to face the issue of water scarcity CAS Chief of Party Professor Dr Bashir Ahmad stressed upon the need to find the solution of the problems of the farming community.
He said that USPCAS-AFS is working in five dimensions including efficient governance and leadership, curricular reforms, high quality applied and policy research, internationally competitive multidisciplinary graduate training and the technical and financial sustainability. Professor Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik said that the global warming is having the deteriorating impact on agriculture. He said that increasing population, urbanisation and migration to cities and decreasing agricultural land were posing the threats to food security.
Source: Business Recorder