Pakistan is facing serious threats of food insecurity and water scarcity, demanding sustainable and comprehensive agricultural policies to ensure foods for ever-increasing population of the country, said an expert during a meeting.

University of Agriculture Faisalabad Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad said this talking to a delegation of 14th Senior Management Course, National Management College. The delegation was led by Brig (r) Khan Ahmad. To a question about the food security, he said that the third world countries are required to focus genetically modified crops rather than organic crops to meet food demand.

The vice chancellor said that developed nations like Europe and United States can afford organic crops but the same way cannot be afforded by the developing countries. He was of the view that the university in collaboration with Germany was working on desert agriculture in flora, fauna and livestock sector in Cholistan. In the desert agriculture, there is an opportunity of value addition and the range management as well as mapping the species for explore the potential, he added. The VC noted that average per acre wheat production in Pakistan was around 30 mounds whereas the progressive farmers were getting more than 50 mounds per acre.

Talking about water, he said that water scarcity is linked with food security.  He added, “Pakistan is placed in the list of the water-scarce countries. Her total water storage capacity is less than 15 million acre feet whereas we are dumping 105 MAF back to the sea. If we store the said quantity of the water going back to sea, the country can face the challenge of water scarcity.”

He also called for maximum productivity of water with the use of drip and water efficient irrigation by weaning farmers away from traditional and flood irrigation. He said that 1.0 million tub-wells are being operated in Punjab, resulting in decline in groundwater table. He said, “India is sucking our sub surface water also with high powered pumps and providing heavy subsidy on the electricity for the Indian Punjab.”

Brig (r) Khan Ahmad urged the agricultural scientists to produce tangible researches and produce climate-resistant and short-term varieties of different crops in order to ward off food insecurity. He also stressed a need for transferring their technologies and researches among the farming community especially relating to water and crop increment issues for minimising the use of water and ending hunger from the region.

He highlighted a need for capacity-building and recommended to enhance collaboration among research organisation and universities to work together in research areas for the cause of increasing agricultural productivity.