KARACHI - The scientists have urged the government to modernise agriculture sector for food security of the country and poverty alleviation.

“As compared to agriculture countries of the world yields per hectare in Pakistan are among the lowest. Pakistan has low yield per acre due to traditional methods of cultivation and harvesting. The country may face severe famine as irrigation lands are being reduced due to shortage of water. Although the agriculture sector plays an essential role in Pakistan’s economy, the political governments have failed to strengthen this very important sector. Biotechnology can bring food security as the technology has great potential to revolutionize the agriculture sector in the country.”

They were speaking at a press conference held at the Latif Ebrahim Jamal (LEJ) National Science Information Center, Karachi University (KU), which was addressed by Prof Dr M Iqbal Choudhary, Director International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi (UoK), and Pakistan Biotechnology Information Center (PABIC); Sardar Atif Sultan, Chief Executive Officer, Cantonment Board Malir; Prof Dr. Ghulam Sarwar Markhand, Director Date Palm Research Institute (DPRI) Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur and Prof. Dr. Abdul Razak Mahar, Chairman, Department of Botany Shah Abdul Latif University.

The objective of the press conference, organised by Pabic, was to raise awareness about the tremendous potential of biotechnology commercialization for the sustainable development of the economy of Pakistan. On the occasion, ISAAA Brief 51 was also lunched by Sardar Atif Sultan.

Dr Iqbal Choudhary said that Pakistan is rich in fertile land but unfortunately this is being wasted. The country is approaching towards drastic famine as irrigation lands are being reduced due to shortage of water. He said that for the growing population it is important to introduce modern technologies for commercial farming, and modernize agriculture to achieve food security in Pakistan.

Provision of high quality seeds to farmers is the need of the hour for better yields, he said, adding that the promotion of commercial farming at the government level can increase the overall crops’ productivity in the country. Dr. Iqbal Choudhary said that the agriculture sector maintains to be an vital part of Pakistan’s financial system, as it employs about 43 per cent of the labour force.

Pakistan’s agriculture sector needs proper attention of the authorities concerned, as it owns a fundamental role in ensuring food safety, generating overall financial growth, dropping poverty and the transforming towards industrialization, he said.

Sardar Atif Sultan said that this is mind-blowing fact that over 40,000 children die in the world everyday from hunger.

He stressed the need to promote biotechnology in the country instead of declaring it ‘social taboo’, saying the proper use of this modern technology can save the country from any possible drought.

Prof Dr. Ghulam Sarwar Markhand highlighted the past, present and future of agri-biotechnology in Pakistan. He said that the surplus production of food is need of the hour to bring the country on the path of the progress.