ISLAMABAD-Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam on Tuesday stressed the need for shifting from low valued crops production to high value crops in order to make agriculture sector more profitable and competitive.

Speaking at Institute of Policy Reforms on “Performance of Agriculture Sector”, the minister said average growth rate in agriculture was far behind as compared to the neighbouring countries. Efficient use of fertilizer, water management, good quality seeds were the major requirements of agriculture sector development in the country, he added. He also asked for revamping local seed production techniques in order to meet the requirements of quality seeds and reduce reliance on imported seeds.

He said despite an agrarian country, Pakistan was still importing oilseed, pulses and other crops, because of old and outdated seed technology.

“Our seed was not capable of providing high yield and on the other hand genetic engineering has not brought any major change in the agriculture production”, he remarked.

The minister further said that local seed industry was unable to produce desired results in agriculture output. He called upon the public and private sectors for putting their joint efforts to fulfill the need of good quality seed to avoid its import from other countries. Syed Fakhar Imam said that flouriculture has a very big market internationally. He also asked for introducing pest free, virus resistant cotton seed varieties to fulfill the domestic requirements as well as to exports.

He also urged the need for bringing innovation in fruits and vegetables production and processing in order to enhance their exports.

Syed Fakhar Imam emphasized for taking measures to increase shelf life of fruits and vegetables for promoting their exports. The minister informed that the government was paying special focus on enhancing the local production of oil seed and launched olive project which was producing positive results.