FAISALABAD - Argentine Ambassador in Pakistan Ivan Ivanissevich has said Pak-Argentine agricultural and educational ties would be further strengthened to get benefit from each other’s experience.

He said his country would assist Pakistan in agricultural advancements for transforming the sector with modern tools including precision approaches, zero tillage, and proper weed eradication etc.

He said Pakistan suffers a loss of around 40 percent of its crops due to the lack of storage and other modern facilities. He was addressing the inaugural session of International Conference titled: “Advances in Agriculture Resource Management” arranged by Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences and Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.

Farmers all over the world are facing hard challenges; especially in developing countries, he said. He added good management of resources requires higher investments and higher quality of work. So, it is important to maximize the returns, he noted.

He said, “In Argentina until the 1980s, we were facing the issue of lack of storage. Then, the farmers found the concept of silo-bags as a cheap way. It does not require sophisticated equipment. The silo-bags changed the frame of mind of our farmers. The absolute majority of our people are precisely farmers and no businessmen because we have to sell our crop as soon as it is harvested.” Now, he added, the farmers could hold their crops, and wait until they could get a better price for their efforts.

He said that Pakistan is among the countries which suffer the most due to climate change. He said precision in agriculture plays a major role in increasing yields. He called for creating good mechanism between farmers and agriculture institutes. He said management of sowing times, fertilisation, herbicide/pesticide applications and harvest are crucial in order to obtain high yields.

Addressing on the occasion, UAF Vice Chancellor Iqrar Ahmad said that the half of the country population will be living in urban areas by next 15 years in Pakistan. It will not only increase the burden on the urban areas but also pose a threat to the food security. The agriculture land is being used for other purposes. He said that it was a matter of grave concern that industrial influx was being used for the irrigation water that is not fit. He said that soil was being overstretched by the continuous cropping in the field, resulting in low fertility. He also suggested pricing the water in order to avoid its wastages. Pakistan is placed in the water stressed countries, he added.

Earlier, UAF former vice chancellor Dr Riaz Hussain Qureshi called for mapping out to a policy to have a ban on the conversion of fertile agricultural land into the other usage. He showed his concern that the country don’t have the proper data to analyze salinity trends either it is increasing or decreasing etc. He said that water was being wasted amid the situation when we are water scarce country. There is need to dig out the social aspects by creating the awareness about water, he said. He said that climate changes were posing the threats for the agricultural productivity. He said that we have to adopt the modern trend like precision agriculture and modern trend of sowing and harvesting to compete with the rest of world and to reduce the cost of production.

Director Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences Dr Javed Akhter said, “We have to increase the productivity for the ever increasing population as the agriculture land was diminishing. He said that salinity poses a major threat to agriculture. He said that sustainable crop production in the country is threatened by factors including soils degradation by excessive salts accumulation and soil deterioration by the use of saline brackish underground water. He said research is a continuous process to fight the challenges.