PAKISTAN OWNS world-standard agricultural research organization namely the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), where hundreds of highly qualified scientists are working to develop agriculture sector. The National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) is one of the famous research centers working under the council which has been facilitating agriculture development through research and guidance to farmers. The center serves as headquarter for dozens of agriculture research centers working all across the country. Currently, all across the globe, special attention is being given to cope with the challenges of good security by increasing food productivity, with minimization of inputs and use of technologies.
The agriculture scientists have been vigorously working to develop agriculture sector on modern lines, transform the fate of countrymen and ensure sustainable economic development. So far, the scientists have been successful in feeding the increasing population only due to utilization of latest technologies they have developed with untiring efforts.
However, prima facie, a destabilizing movement has been initiated by Capital Development Authority (CDA) aimed at hitting the agriculture research to expose people to hunger and starvation. The CDA recently moved a summary for generating funds of Rs.150 billion by converting the NARC into a housing society through a private developer. The reasons stated by the CDA is that with the passage of time, this area has become a hub of residential and commercial activity and agriculture research does not appear to be the foremost appropriate activity on this site.
All sections of the society including parliamentarians, scholars, media experts, columnists, agricultural and environmental experts, international organizations and civil society have categorically rejected the summary and termed it anti-development and anti-Pakistan move to push back Pakistan from the path of progress.
It is pertinent to mention here that at the time of partition, Pakistan didnt inherit any agriculture research setup at federal level. It was felt that in line with Indian Agricultural Research Institute which was located in New Delhi, a similar agriculture research institution may also be established in Pakistan. This concept was realized in 1975 with the allotment of 1395.2 acres of land at Park Road, Islamabad by the then Prime Minister. Over 40 years, with the generous financial and technical support of more than Rs. 100 billion by the international organizations i.e. USAID, USDA, JICA, CIDA, World Bank etc. and national donors, the Center has emerged as a world class institute of agriculture research. The Center has research infrastructure of more than 1.76 million Sq. Ft. including accredited labs. green houses, gene bank, animal sheds, library/documentation, auditorium, machinery and lab equipment repair workshops, seed stores, hostels, cafeteria and, audio visual studios.
Currently, PARC/NARC is coordinating with 114 countries and 32 international organizations among which it has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs). The center is also collaborating with 81 national institutions and organizations and signed MoUs with them. Moreover, NARC is the host of various international organizations i.e. FAO, CIMMYT, ICARDA, AVRDC, ILRI, IRRI and ICIMOD etc. and these have established their country liaison offices at NARC through formal consent of Government of Pakistan.
Since its establishment, NARC had contributed immensely in averting many national crises as well as bringing new knowledge and innovation in the country. The NARC has contributed to a total of Rs 4184.54 billion by introducing various new varieties and techniques.
The land resources other than research infrastructure are being regularly used for the multiplication of new technologies at a minimal scale for providing to the farming communities of different agriculture production systems all over the country. The technologies worth Rs 1474 million/year are being generated on 1395 acres of land area of NARC that clearly shows the proper land use by NARC and extracting maximum potential out of the land.
NARC scientists are continuously working for the prosperity of the country through developing new technologies. The new technological initiatives worth Rs 199.5 billion in next 5 years will not only result in higher production level but will also contribute billions of rupees in the national economy.
The whole research infrastructure of NARC is developed over a period of 40 years with the investment of more than 100 billion rupees having highly sophisticated equipment used by internationally trained competent manpower. No magic can rebuilt such huge national asset of international repute overnight without losing the continuity of ongoing research process and highly precious genetic resources. It is also impossible to shift Genebank in particular which maintain more than 35,000 lines/accessions regularly used for breeding purposes at national level. In addition, trust-shaken international community will be reluctant to provide financial and technical support to rebuild such a Centre of excellence at an alternate place which could take decades and during all that time food security will remain at stake.
In the light of above facts it is imperative to preserve the prime research center that has innumerable contributions in uplifting of agricultural sector of Pakistan therefore the higher authorities in particular Honorable Prime Minster must reject the CDA summary in the national interest and give priority to the right thing by sensing the need of the hour.