ISLAMABAD - Minister for National Food security and research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan on Monday stressed the need for investing in rural development to create job and business opportunities for rural community to control the rural-urban migration for sustainable agriculture growth in the country.

Addressing a seminar held here to commemorate the World Food Day, he said that increasing trend of rural urban migration was also creating deficiency of skilled manpower. The event was organised by NARC in collaboration with FAO and World Food Programme with an aim to create awareness about food safety and security as well as agriculture development for tackling the growing food demand across the globe.

The minister said that there was an immense pressure on natural resources and environment due to intensification of crop and livestock sectors in order to feed the growing population in the country. Bosan said that agriculture sector was facing many other problems including rapid ground water depletion, watersheds degradation, desertification, deforestation and range-lands deterioration, which were poising threats for food security and safety.

He further said that the theme of this year World Food Day highlights as to how investment in food security and rural development can change the course and future of migration, which was rapidly increasing in new challenges. The government was according priority to promote crop diversification, value addition, agricultural mechanisation and establishment of small and medium development projects in agribusiness to steer the sector towards adopting appropriate coping strategies to uplift the agriculture sector and rural economy.

Highlighting the government’s initiatives, he said that it had introduced several measures to introduce cost-effective agriculture by providing tax exemption on the import of agri-machienry and pesticides.

Speaking on the occasion, National Food Security and Research Secretary Fazal Abbas Maken urged for learning to grow to tackle with the needs in sustainable manner without destroying the natural resources. He asked for evolving innovative approaches to improve agronomic practices and make the supply chains of agriculture produces friendlier to the farming community.

Addressing the event, FAO representative Mina Dowlatchahi said that FAO supports countries to invest in livelihoods and build more resilient rural communities. Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Yousuf Zafar said that major factors that were contributing to rural migration were food insecurity, poverty and lack of economic opportunities in rural areas.