LAHORE – Leading scientists fear the old methodology in farming will further hamper country’s agriculture productivity and create a food security crisis in Pakistan in coming years.

In an interaction with concerned government ministries and journalists, they emphasised the need to introduce latest technology in the agriculture sector to fulfil food requirements of growing population and improve country’s economy.

“Government looks serious in improving economic outlook, food security and livelihood of its farmers by approving agriculture technology that will enable production of more crops by using fewer resources and minimizing impact to the environment. We held meetings with ministries of national food security and research and climate change and discussed the challenges and opportunities in Pakistan’s agriculture,” said Dr Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director CropLife Asia, and Ms Sonny Tabbaba, Director Biotechnology Affairs of the organisation, while talking to the journalists at a local hotel yesterday.

They said it was a welcoming sign that the government allowed farmers to choose genetically –enhanced corn seeds that will help them produce better crops and reduce overall environment impact.

“Population continues to grow in Asia and around the world. We look to our farmers to produce more food with less arable land and water and less impact on environment,” said Dr Tan, adding how it could be possible to meet the food demand of fast growing population in Pakistan if its farmers would use traditional methods of cultivation.

“Farmers must abandon old methods to protect their own and country’s future,” he emphasised.

Having one of the world’s bests fertile land and irrigation system, Pakistan’s great potential in agriculture productivity could not be ruled out. But unfortunately around 70 to 80 per cents of country’s farmers use old dated seeds, cultivation methods and are unaware of modern technology being used by farmers of developed countries and even of India, China, Philippine and other developing nations.

The cultivation land is shrinking in Pakistan and small farmers are abandoning their farms and shifting to the cities in search of other jobs as traditional methods of farming resulting low agriculture productivity have changed their minds to adopt other professions.

The country’s GDP growth rate target could not be achieved in 2015-16 due to 30 per cent decline in cotton production mainly in Punjab.

Dr Muhmmad Afzal of CropLife Pakistan Executive Director says the government and media should join hands in creating awareness among the farmers for use of modern technology to secure the future of coming generation.

“We should continue to use all tools at our disposal, including biotechnology, to improve Pakistan’s farmers’ lives and to ensure we meet the community’s expectations of producing quality food and fiber in a safe and sustainable way,” he said.

A data provided by the CropLife read the areas under biotech crop cultivation across Asia was: 11.6 million hectares in India, 3.7 in China and 2.9 million hectares in Pakistan. Newly cultivating countries in the region are Vietnam and Bangladesh. Vietnam approved biotech corn to reduce its import burden of 7.6 million metric ton and provide an opportunity to national farmers to enhance productivity.

Experts say the authorities in Pakistan should overwhelmingly advocate modern trends in farming to improve living standards of the farmers and improve agriculture productivity.