LAHORE - Pakistan has been ranked as one of the least spending countries as far as agriculture research is concerned, which deprives farmers of higher productivity benefits besides increasing his or her cost of production significantly, said experts.

“Instead of investing on research and innovation, Pakistan’s agriculture sector is focused on increased use of inputs, including fertilisers, pesticides and water, which led to stagnation in productivity,” said Dr Mubarik Ali, Chief Executive Punjab Agriculture Research Board (PARB). He was speaking at a consultative meeting with members of the Agricultural Journalists’ Association (AJA) here on Saturday.

Our agriculture production is not picking up and we have to import billion of rupees worth of pulses, fruit and vegetables every year, he said. Citing the example of regional countries, Dr Ali underlined that Pakistan had the lowest spending on agriculture research among almost all the world key nations and it was too on declining trend.

He pointed out that the country was hardly investing 0.25 to 0.29 per cent of its agriculture GDP on research and development (R&D), whereas India was investing 0.4 per cent, Bangladesh 0.35 per cent, China 0.6 per cent and Japan 2.5 per cent of respective agriculture GDP. On the other hand, developed world was investing 2-3 per cent of its agriculture GDP on R&D, he added.

PRAB chief further highlighted that inappropriate use of funds; obsolete research infrastructure; little or no commercialisation and lack of innovation among scientists were a few other impediments affecting agriculture growth in the country. The root cause of the problems include little investment on research, inappropriate investment, lack of coordinated planning, lack of monitoring & evaluation, focused on routine, rather than problem-solving research, little Incentive to be Innovative and last but not the least little commercialization of research,” he elaborated.

On the one hand, he indicated, Pakistan was on the lowest side when it came to invest in R&D, while on the other hand, a major chunk of investment—around 85 per cent went to administrative expenditures, like salaries, transport and maintenance of research facilities.

CEO PARB appreciated the role of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Punjab government for revamping the education and research facilities in the country. Highlighting the significance of R&D, Dr Ali said, “These are scientists and research institutes’ efforts that the country is producing nearly five times more grains when it is compared with the levels of pre-partition.