Possible food insecurity in Pakistan!
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.