ISLAMABAD - President Dr. Arif Alvi has said Pakistan depends upon agriculture, stressing that food security is also immensely important for the national security.

Addressing a national dialogue on agriculture organized by the National Assembly in Islamabad on Thursday, he said the nations which cannot produce adequate grains for their people are always embroiled in host of problems.

The President said the agriculture has and will remain the backbone of the country’s economy. We should formulate policies in the agriculture sector keeping in view the past failures and successes.

Arif Alvi emphasized the need for provision of insect resistant seeds to the farmers to enhance per acre yield of different crops.  For quality seeds, the research institutions will have to play their part.  He said the relevant universities will also have to produce the manpower keeping in view the market demand.

The President said the agriculture is the biggest consumer of water and there is need to adopt modern techniques to ensure its efficient use.

Referring to the increasing influence of Artificial intelligence and Information Technology in the agriculture, the President said we also need to remain cognizant of the changes taking place in the world and adopt them.

Arif Alvi said that modern farms with best farming practices should be developed in each district in order to encourage the farmers to emulate the same in their fields.

The President said the government has taken some important decisions to uplift the sector. He, however said that we will have to bring more value addition to the crops and provide better market access to the farmers community.

Addressing the ceremony, Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser said the development of agriculture sector is indispensable for overall development of Pakistan.  He said this sector has a pivotal role in poverty alleviation and food security.

He said a parliamentary committee on agriculture has been established to become the voice of the farmers and protect their genuine interests. Minister for Food Security Khusro Bakhtiar said a national agriculture emergency program has been started at a cost of 277 billion rupees. He said this program will be executed in collaboration with the provinces to strengthen this vital sector of the economy. He said we are giving fiscal incentives to the farmers and referred to the abolishment of the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess. He said this step has reduced the price of Urea.

The Minister said the government is also encouraging private investment in the development of storage facilities. Khusro Bakhtiar expressed the confidence to surmount the challenge of locust.

Chairman Kashmir Committee Fakhar Imam underlined the need for investment in the technology and research to uplift the agriculture.