Pakistan is essentially an agricultural country, given the percentage of agricultural products it exports and the people employed in this sector. Given these facts, it is alarming to note that the problems faced by the agriculture sector are one of the least addressed issues of the Pakistani economy.
Pakistan is on the verge of facing food shortage in the future. This was revealed by experts at Latif Ebrahim Jamal (LEJ) National Science Information Center, Karachi University (KU) earlier this week.
Renowned agricultural and biological scientists spoke during the press conference. They also raised public awareness about the potential of biotechnology commercialization for achieving sustainable development.
The experts urged the government to modernize the agriculture system to ensure food security and poverty alleviation.
Causes of the Food Shortage
The experts said that in comparison to other agricultural countries of the world, yield per hectare in Pakistan is among the lowest.
Pakistan has low yield per acre due to traditional methods of cultivation and harvesting. This means that Pakistan produces a low output of crops per acre.
The Director of International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (KU) Dr. Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary said,
“The country is approaching towards drastic famine as irrigation lands are being reduced due to shortage of water.”
He emphasized on the role of concerned authorities towards this matter and said,
“Pakistan’s agriculture sector needs proper attention of the authorities concerned, as it owns a fundamental role in ensuring food safety, generating overall financial growth, dropping poverty and the transforming towards industrialization.”
Sardar Atif Sultan, Prof Dr. Ghulam Sarwar Markhand, Director Date Palm Research Institute (DPRI) Shah Abdul Latif University, and Prof Dr Abdul Razak Mahar also addressed the conference.
The experts said that the country may face severe famine (food scarcity) mainly due to reduction in irrigation land. They listed the major causes behind this deteriorating situation such as:
- Water shortage
- Old agriculture practices
- Lack of facilities for farmers
Is There a Solution to this Problem?
The experts presented some solutions to help cope with the problem of food scarcity. They suggested that Biotechnology can bring food security as the technology has great potential to reshape the agriculture sector according to the modern needs of the country.
Prof Dr Ghulam Sarwar Markhand highlighted the past, present and future of Agri-biotechnology in Pakistan.
Along with introducing new techniques, the provision of high quality seeds to farmers and the promotion of commercial farming at the government level can increase agricultural productivity in the country and help minimize the possibility of food shortage in the country.