The business community of the southern Punjab has urged upon the government to form agriculture policy with the consent of farmers, peasants and small land holders, saying that serious food security could take place in near future because of the rising population and scarcity of water.
If steps are not taken on war footing, food security would shatter the economic structure as country would be compelled to spend billions dollars on imports to feed its huge population. “If we stayed where we are today in terms of cropped area and yield per hectare, we will have 30 percent less food available per capita in next two decades.”
Talking to media men here on Saturday President of Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Fareed Mughis Sheikh said that though Pakistan’s almost 43 percent labour force is dependent upon agriculture, the yield gap in the four major crops of Pakistan is three times from the best producers in the world such as China and Egypt.
He said that low yield has contributed to the poverty in rural areas besides forcing country to import agriculture produces to feed its population. Fareed said that the fact should be an eye opener that China produces two times more cotton and wheat per hectare and Egypt produces around three times more rice and sugarcane per hectare as compared to Pakistan.
“Factors that are recommended to improve the yield are through large scale introduction of hybrid seeds and mechanized farming, high efficiency irrigation systems such as drip irrigation and reduction in wastage of crop through introduction of privately owned storage facilities and cold storage facilities”, the MCCI President added.
Fareed said that 21st century belongs to biotechnology and Pakistan has tremendous potential to emerge as biotechnology leader but to achieve the goal private sector, scientists, researchers and the government would have to work hand-in-hand.
He said that Pakistan’s agriculture sector was losing heavily due to insufficient utilisation of biotechnology as the magic progress of agriculture sector is only due to genetically modified crops. He said that agriculture sector in Pakistan has a huge potential.
It continues to be the single largest and dominant driving force for growth as well as the main source of livelihood for 66 percent of Pakistan’s population. But it has always faced two major problems: first, productions per acre are lower than many countries. Secondly, around 40 percent of production is wasted in the form of post-harvest losses due to insufficient utilisation of biotechnology.
The MCCI Chief said that federal and provincial governments should give a special focus on promotion of research and quality crops because green revolution is only possible through genetic engineering. He said that Pakistan would have to focus on genetically modified and hybrid crops to tap true potential of agricultural productivity in the country.
Source: Business Recorder
image: Khalil Shah