Pos­si­ble food in­se­cu­rity in Pak­istan!

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

PAK­ISTAN con­sists of ar­eas that were con­sid­ered as food bas ket of the Sub­con­ti­nent and that is why it is rather as­ton­ish­ing to hear that the coun­try might face se­vere food in­se­cu­rity in the decades to come. Speak­ers and ex­perts at the launch of an in­ter­na­tional report in La­hore feared that the coun­try would turn food in­se­cure by 2030 and there­fore, it needs to pay at­ten­tion to­wards swift im­ple­men­ta­tion of agri-biotech ap­pli­ca­tions.

Agri­cul­ture is main­stay of Pak­istan’s econ­omy as it ac­counts for 21% of the GDP and to­gether with agro-based prod­ucts fetches 80% of the coun­try’s to­tal ex­port earn­ings. More than 48% of the labour force is en­gaged in this sec­tor. Though at the moment Pak­istan’s achieve­ment in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor was not so bad as it is ex­port­ing cot­ton, wheat, rice and sugar be­sides fruit and veg­eta­bles. But it is to be noted that con­tri­bu­tion of agri­cul­ture to the GDP was 53% in 1947 which has shrunk to just 21% and the coun­try might face food short­ages be­cause of fast grow­ing pop­u­la­tion. There­fore, the coun­try will have to shift to mod­ern agri­cul­tural im­ple­ments, biotech­nol­ogy and fo­cus on per acre yield. Neigh­bor­ing In­dia and Bangladesh have shown sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in their agri­cul­ture sec­tor while China is grow­ing padi crops in Gobi desert yet Pak­istan is still re­ly­ing on peren­nial canal sys­tem of ir­ri­ga­tion. Re­search and devel­op­ment is key to progress and there is need to grow crops that need less water, less fer­til­izer and give more yield. We have a ded­i­cated re­search en­tity Pak­istan Agri­cul­tural Re­search Coun­cil be­sides five univer­si­ties but the re­search car­ried out there has hardly reached to the farm­ers. Pak­istan is also the 4th largest pro­ducer of milk in the world but de­spite that we are im­port­ing dry milk, which speaks vol­umes about mess in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor. To pro­pel agri­cul­ture of the coun­try into 21st cen­tury, the qual­ity of tech­ni­cal skills and man­age­ment of agri­cul­tural man­power must im­prove. We must plan now to avert a food catas­tro­phe in the years to come.

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