International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has praised the Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB) of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) for effectively using nuclear techniques to revive the textile industry in general and cotton crop in particular.
The acknowledgment of NIAB’s efforts by an international organization, which seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, in reinvigorating the low performing agriculture sector of the country is a ray of hope for the farmers across Pakistan.
According to the official statement issued by the IAEA’s Office of Public Information and Communication, heatwaves and rising temperatures resulting from climate change had decreased the cotton yield throughout Pakistan. However, by harnessing nuclear technology, NIAB introduced new cotton varieties that are more tolerant to these weather conditions.
NIAB-developed varieties now account for 40% of the country’s total cotton yield, a significant increase from 25% from two years ago and from non-existent yield in 2016.
Deputy Chief Scientist at NIAB, Manzoor Hussain, said:
Year-on-year variation in cotton yield due to climate change was not only negatively impacting the farming industry, but it was also straining the development of the entire cotton-based value chain in the region.
Agriculture is central to Pakistan’s economy, and cotton has a significant role in driving the economy of the country. Through the use of nuclear technology, NIAB has turned the cotton industry profitable.
Since 2016, NIAB has developed four cotton varieties and their demand is continuously increasing across the country.
Moreover, IAEA, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is also working with local industry experts to develop and introduce new varieties of cotton that are more resilient and better adapted to the new climate of Pakistan.
IAEA statement added that IAEA and FAO intend to transfer technology and hold capacity-building programs in Pakistan in the long-term.
Note that NIAB is one of the four agriculture centers working under PAEC in Pakistan. Collectively, so far, these centers have developed 115 varieties of different crops using nuclear techniques, 16 of which are cotton varieties.