Development of the agriculture sector was among the top priorities of the government and the prime minister’s Agriculture Transformation Plan was a revolutionary initiative to shift conventional agriculture to the next level; commercial agriculture, said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema.
Addressing a seminar on Tuesday, he said that the government policy of agricultural transformation is not only for food security of the country but also addresses the physical nutritional needs of every citizen of Pakistan. He said that there was a dire need to improve nourishment of humans and animals in the country because each person across the world consumed 210kg of fruits and vegetables almost every year while in Pakistan the per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables stood at 63kg.
“Each individual across the world consumes 370kg grains and in Pakistan the consumption is 200kg whereas 40 million tons of feed is required for our animals and we are producing 13 million tonnes.”
Cheema said that the government was allocating different districts for different crops under which the problem of water would also be controlled and imports would be reduced by increasing the production of agricultural commodities. Highlighting the prime minister’s policy on agricultural transformation, he said that Pakistan would eliminate soybean imports by 2024 and Gilgit would be the next agricultural hub of Pakistan under this policy.
He appealed to the faculty and students of the university to go beyond facilitation and promote applied research, bring new quality products to the market, create new and good seeds and invent cheap ways to save water.
Also speaking on the occasion, Sustainable Development Policy Institute Executive Director Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that the coronavirus epidemic had created a crisis of health, economy and malnutrition in the world, which had severely affected even a strong economic country like the United States. As a result of the successful strategy of the government, Pakistan survived these three crises.
He said that there was no doubt that food items had become more expensive in Pakistan during this epidemic but they were not lacking. Highlighting the importance of the relationship between education and industry, he said that both were the guarantors of Pakistan’s development.
Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources Chairman Dr Muhammad Ashraf said that Pakistan’s national security was linked to food security, which showed its importance. He said that most of the water was used for agriculture in Pakistan which was depleting the country’s water resources and needed to be addressed on a war footing. He said that to solve the water problem, the regional distribution of crops in the country also needed to be strictly adhered to.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) Vice Chancellor Dr Qamaruz Zaman informed the gathering that PMAS-AAUR had already launched various programs in which research teams consisting of faculty and research students had been formed to strengthen the academic and industrial linkage and promote the culture of applied research.
He further said that PMAS-AAUR was also offering short courses in Khushab under the government’s Successful Youth Program, which would not only provide employment to the youth but also moderate the agriculture sector. He said that the Ten Billion Tree Honey Tsunami was a boon to the coming generations of Pakistan for which there was no alternative.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2021.