FAISALABAD-Experts painted the grim picture of the country’s agriculture sector, saying that crop yields are being affected by rainfall volatility, increased drought and rising temperature due to climate changes.

However, Punjab Agriculture Secretary M Mahmood on Wednesday said that the Punjab Government was redesigning agro-ecological zones to fight the challenges regarding climate change, water and soil fertility and to increase productivity on the basis of competitive advantage.

Chairing the meeting on agrological zones at University of Agriculture Faisalabad, he viewed that ecological zones are being redefined at micro level so that per acre productivity of the crops could be jacked up keeping climatic, water and soil conditions in view. He said that agro-ecological zones redesigning will recommend farmers to grow the crops which are suitable and comparatively productive in their areas.

He directed the team of Food and Agriculture Organizations to bridge the gap in the development of micro agrological zones. He said that Punjab Government was making an all-out effort to address the issues of farming community. He said that climate changes were posing a serious threat to agriculture secretor. For which, tangible measures on the part of researchers, educationists, policy makers and others are needed.

He directed the committee of agrological zone to keep the latest methods in view and after the completion their work, send the report to the international agencies for evaluation. He said that the step would not only increase the productivity but also help in making the sector a profitable profession. He said that there is a need to take the measures to fight the water abuse and misuse.

US Pakistan-Centre for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security (USPCAS) Director Prof Dr Iqrar A Khan hoped that that team would come up with viable solutions in the form of agro zone that will increase the agriculture and farmers’ incomes.

He said that there is rainfall volatility, increased drought and rising temperature due to climate changes, which is affecting crop yields. He said, “If we could not take the timely decision, the situation will aggravate in the years to come. Punjab government was redesigning the agriculture policy to make the agriculture sector sustainable and profitable.”

Prof Dr Iqbal Zafar said the country was facing great challenge of deteriorating agri land fertility, water scarcity, climate changes. He said that the government was making serious efforts to boost up the productivity.

He said that redesigning agro ecological zones would help make development in the sector. He said that country was blessed with four seasons, and fertile land system but we could not reap the fruits from its potential. He was of view that awareness must be created among the farming community about the modern agro based technologies. He said that the work on the agro zone will help ensure food security in the country.

Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi Vice Chancellor Dr Rai Niaz said that ground water quality was deteriorating that is posing a threat for agriculture productivity. He was of the view that step-up efforts were needed to address the issue at the national level.

Muhammad Nawaz Shareef Agriculture University Vice Chancellor Dr Asif Ali said, “We have to develop the varieties keeping in view the changing climate as agro zones were changing.”

Punjab Agriculture Research Board Chief Executive Dr Noorul Islam said that crops’ shift was being witnessed. He said that if we could not take the measures to fight the challenges facing the sector, it will face a setback.

DG Agriculture On-Farm Water Management Malik Muhammad Akram said that the groundwater framework was being devised to curtail the heavy ground water pumping.

Water Management Research Center Director Dr Hamid Shah said groundwater quality was deteriorating rapidly that must be addressed at national level. Imran S Khalid, Research Fellow, SDPI, Islamabad; Fahim Ahmed, Project Coordinator, FAO, Multan; Mubashir Riaz Khan, Director UIIT, PMAS UAAR, Rawalpindi; Dr Syed Aftab Wajid, UAF; Dr. Syed Hamid Hussain Shah, Director Water Management Research Centre, UAF; Ch. Abdul Ghafoor, Director Coordination, Davis Road, Lahore; Dr Ghulam Mahboob Subhani, Director Headquarter AARI, Faisalabad; Malik Muhammad Akram, DG Water Management, Lahore; Dr. Dildar Hussain Kazmi, Pakistan Meteorological Department, Lahore and Muhammad Naveed Arshad, and Muhammad Shauket from UAF were also present.