Threat to food security: Govt must review agriculture policy: LCCI

LAHORE : Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has called on the government to review agriculture policy, saying that serious food security could take place in near future because of the rising population.

If steps are not taken on war footing, food security would shatter the economic structure as country would be compelled to spend billions dollars on imports to feed its huge population. “If we stayed where we are today in terms of cropped area and yield per hectare, we will have 30% less food available per capita in next two decades.” In a statement issued here, LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad, Senior Vice President Almas Hyder and Vice President Nasir Saeed said that though Pakistan’s almost 43% labor force is dependent upon agriculture, the yield gap in the four major crops of Pakistan is three times from the best producers in the world such as China and Egypt.

They said that low yield has contributed to the poverty in rural areas besides forcing country to import agriculture produces to feed its population. They said that the fact should be an eye opener that China produces two times more cotton and wheat per hectare and Egypt produces around three times more rice and sugarcane per hectare as compared to Pakistan. “Factors that are recommended to improve the yield are through large scale introduction of hybrid seeds and mechanized farming, high efficiency irrigation systems such as drip irrigation and reduction in wastage of crop through introduction of privately owned storage facilities and cold storage facilities”, the LCCI office-bearers added.

They said that 21st century belongs to Biotechnology and Pakistan has tremendous potential to emerge as Biotechnology leader but to achieve the goal private sector, scientists, researchers and government would have to work hand in hand. They said that Pakistan’s agriculture sector was losing heavily due to insufficient utilization of biotechnology as the magic progress of agriculture sector is only due to Genetically Modified crops. He said that agriculture sector in Pakistan has a huge potential. It continues to be the single largest and dominant driving force for growth as well as the main source of livelihood for 66 percent of Pakistan’s population. But it has always faced two major problems: first, productions per acre are lower than many countries. Secondly, around 40% of production is wasted in the form of post-harvest losses due to insufficient utilization of biotechnology.

The LCCI office-bearers said that federal and provincial governments should give a special focus on promotion of research and quality crops because green revolution is only possible through genetic engineering. They said that Pakistan would have to focus on genetically modified and hybrid crops to tap true potential of agricultural productivity in the country. While stressing the need for establishment of institutes both at provincial and federal levels for creating awareness among the farming community about Genetically Modified (GM) technology, they said that sustainability and improvement in crops yield are the major challenges to meet upcoming threats of increasing population and depleting water resources.

“Biotechnology has shown considerable potential to raise agricultural productivity by addressing problems not solved through conventional research. Among other application of biotechnology, development of genetically modified organisms is the promising tool to facilitate plant breeding in development of crops to insect and tolerant to herbicide, the LCCI office-bearers added.

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