The University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) has planned to develop the Pakistan Agri Vision 2020-2047 meant to ensure modern trends in the agricultural sector of the country to bring it on par with the international standards.
The focus areas are food, water, energy and environment.
It is estimated that the plan will help increase the share of agriculture from $60 billion to around $120 billion in Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In this regard, a meeting was held at the university that was chaired by UAF Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Muhammad Ashraf, while Agri-Vision Lead Persons Dr Riaz Hussain Qureshi and Dr Bashir Ahmad, who are former vice chancellors, attended it.
The UAF VC said that the country needs to shift focus from the current five crops to other high-value crops to earn more revenue.
He said the committee was determined to formulate a plan to mechanise small farms, mark agricultural ecological zones, introduce innovative tools to manage the crops, utilise artificial intelligence for precision agriculture, predict climatic and seasonal patterns to ensure resilient agriculture and use other such techniques to expand the sector and increase its value in the GDP.
Speaking on the occasion, he highlighted the need to use alternative energy sources to meet the power requirement of the mechanised agricultural sector.
“The Agri-Vision plans would be executed up to 2047 to promote healthy agricultural trends and a prosperous farming community by the time we celebrate a century of our country’s independence,” he added.
To make farming more profitable and mitigate associated risks, the vice chancellor suggested to amp up agriculture research funding.
He maintained that the lack of availability of good quality certified seed was the greatest hurdle to improved production and, therefore, the authorities should focus on supplying quality seed in the market.
Agri-Vision Lead Person Dr Riaz Hussain said that the population of the country is expected to surpass 350 million by 2047, thereby it is utmost essential to take concrete measures to uplift the agriculture sector for a bright tomorrow.
“To produce enough food we must safeguard good soil health, unpolluted irrigation water supply, reduce the production cost, provide quality seed, promote the use of high tech equipment and techniques as well as offer better pesticides and herbicides to our cultivators.”
He said that the small agriculture implements were essential to jack up per acre production in Pakistan.
The low profitability of agriculture was hampering the uplift of the sector, Dr Riaz asserted.
Dr Bashir Ahmad said that in Punjab 50% of the irrigation is ensured through groundwater, which costs nearly Rs240 billion annually.
He recommended the establishment of small dams to irrigate land to support small farmers who constitute 92% of the farming community.
The agricultural expert said fertile land is diminishing due to rapid urbanisation and this is a threat to food security in the country.
Dr Bashir was concerned about the stagnation of the agricultural sector over the last two decades.
Dr Muhammad Nawaz told the meeting that malnutrition is a serious area of concern and the people must be educated about a balanced diet. He suggested looking into the potential of livestock breeds to overcome the issue.
Registrar Umar Saeed, Deans Dr Aslam Khan, Dr Masood Sadiq, Dr Asgher Bajwa, Dr Zafar Iqbal, Dr Sarfraz Hassan, Dr Aslam Mirza, Director Planning and Development Irfan Abbas, Director Research Dr Zahir Ahmad and others attended the meeting.
Originally published at Tribune