Water shortage hitting agricultural sector badly

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Provincial Minister for Agriculture Ahmad Ali Aulakh has said that water shortage was hitting the agriculture sector hard and the government would have to build small projects to channelise rainwater for irrigating farmland if early construction of big water reservoir is not possible for time being.

The provincial minister was speaking at a seminar on Bio-technology and technology up-gradation at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Advisor Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Sohail Lashari, LCCI Executive Committee members Dr Shahid Raza, Mian Zahid Javaid and former EC Member Rehmatullah Javed also spoke on the occasion.

The minister said that more than seven million acre feet of water being wasted due to lack of planning and insufficient water reservoirs in the country. Ahmad Ali Aulakh also stressed the need for utilising solar energy for running tube-wells with a view to addressing issue of rising oil prices that has increased cost of production. There is no doubt in it that the conversion to solar energy would cost government heavily but it would be one-time intervention and eventually become cost effective in the longer run.

He said that Pakistan would have to focus on genetically modified and hybrid crops to tap true potential of agricultural productivity in the country. The minister, while stressing the need for establishment of institutes both at provincial and federal level for creating awareness among the farming community about Genetically Modified (GM) technology, said that sustainability and improvement in crops yield are the major challenges to meet upcoming threats of increasing population and depleting water resources.

He said biotechnology has shown considerable potential to raise agricultural productivity by addressing problems. 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 minister said that GM crops have contributed to sustainable development in several significant ways including: contributing to food security and more affordable food, conserving Biodiversity, alleviation of poverty and hunger, mitigating climate change and reducing greenhouses gases, contributing to the cost-effective production of biofuels and above all by contributing to sustainable economic benefits.

In addition to aiding in issues of food security, genetically modified crops have an important role to play in lessening the environmental impact and improving the sustainability of food production. Insect-resistant rice, for example, has the potential to benefit about 1 billion people.

The Advisor Gilgit-Baltistan Sohail Lashari said that Pakistan s agriculture sector was losing heavily due to insufficient utilisation 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 percent of production is wasted in the form of post-harvest losses due to insufficient utilisation of biotechnology. He stressed the need for utilising this beneficial technology for more and more production in various economic sectors.

The LCCI executive committee member and Convener standing committee on biotechnology Dr Shahid Raza, while speaking on the occasion, said that local R & D and Industry-University linkage is vital for progress and prosperity of the country. She urged the government to ensure application of biotechnology in agriculture, health, environment and industry. He said that collaboration with international research institutes could help achieve targets in all sectors of the economy.

Courtesy: Business Recorder


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