Experts for adopting agri-tech to ensure food security

BHURBAN There is a need to adopt innovative and latest agricultural technology coupled with implementation of good agricultural practices to tackle the issue of decreasing available farmland per person and feed the increasing mouths.

This was stressed by speakers at a two-day workshop on “Sustainable Agriculture”.

Compared to 1950, global population will be 300% in 2020, while arable land in this period will increase only by 15%, thus bringing down the farmland availability by 60% per person per hectare.

The workshop was aimed at highlighting the importance of sustainable agriculture in the face of numerous challenges to the national food security. In his introductory presentation, CropLife Pakistan Executive Director Muhammad Afzal explained that the growing population, climate change, scarcity of water and changing lifestyles continue to pose challenges to the national food security. He emphasised the need for promoting sustainable means to grow food and embrace technological innovations.

“This workshop is part of CropLife Pakistan’s broader effort to create awareness and understanding of agricultural technologies,” he added.

Subsequent speakers also highlighted the importance of an enabling business environment that encourages investment in innovative technologies, with specific focus on enhancing crop productivity while reducing the impact on environment.

Sustainable agricultural practices involve judicious use of water resources, minimising soil erosion, reducing fuel consumption and optimising land utilisation. While providing an overview of sustainable agricultural technologies, Afzal explained at length the benefits of biotechnology in relation to promoting sustainable agriculture.

“Biotechnology allows farmers to produce more using fewer resources; it has the potential to reshape productivity in Pakistan by addressing both climate change and food security challenges,” he said.

Afzal pointed out that the government of Pakistan has a clear policy on biotechnology for the past three decades and has invested heavily in research and development of this technology. He stressed that regulatory decisions must be consistent with the policy to build confidence of the plant science industry.

“Pakistan has 45 biotech institutions, over 500 Phd scientists and numerous ongoing projects across various food and non-food crops. Biotechnology also features prominently as a priority area in all government policy documents, including the Vision 2025 and the National Food Security Policy 2018.”

The official added that it is imperative that policymakers provide a stable regulatory and legal framework to facilitate investment and technology transfer and “ensure that regulatory decisions are guided by the overarching policy framework and scientific evidence”.

He was of the view that by combining sustainable agricultural practices with innovative agricultural technologies, Pakistan can combat the adverse effects of climate change and ensure food security for the generations to come.