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How Pakistan can become an agriculture production powerhouse?

Pakistan has a rich and vast natural resource base, covering various ecological and climatic zones; hence the country has great potential for producing all types of food commodities. Pakistan has many cultivable waste in every province, which may be used for corporate farming or crowd funding. The yield in Pakistan are low and this yield gap may be filled and yields may be brought to new heights.

As much as 30% (3.4 MT) of horticultural produce that goes to waste every year, can be converted into economic gain by investing in agribusiness value chain industries. Netherlands may be taken as role model, where agriculture is a high-tech business. Technology has turned small country into the world’s second-biggest exporter of agricultural products and services. Traditionally, Limited partners(LPs) and Venture capitalist(VCs) have been skeptic to step into AG tech. However, recent developments indicate that the industry is about to change. AG is a data hungry industry that, historically, has not been served very well.

The emphasis on IT and Big Data will attract some of the well-known VCs to step in. IT can help to solve a variety of the challenges that the AG sector is facing. For instance, there is a strong need to further integrate the AG supply chain and increase the traceability of critical product data. The mainstream industrial model of farming, with intensive use of pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers, leads to ecological death zones with agro-chemical runoff and pollution of groundwater systems.

A consensus is emerging that addressing the new challenges requires a Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI) for more precise farming in small and large farms throughout the world. The United Nations predicts that the world will need to increase its food production by 70 percent by 2050 to feed a population expected to rise from 7 billion today to 9 billion. But even now, agricultural practices are not sustainable, driving habitat destruction, deforestation, and biodiversity loss worldwide.

Feeding a growing global population which will increasingly be concentrated in urban areas will no doubt be challenging. Cities have the potential to be “powerhouses of food production”. In 2015, the United Nations global development agenda evolves from Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) to Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs (2015-2030). The SDGs will be unique from the MDGs in that they will be universal in scope – applying to all countries, businesses, NGOs not just developing countries, and integrating dimensions of sustainability (economic, social, environmental) within development and going green.

Pakistan may achieve its potential by using technologies like Photovoltaics-based pumping for irrigation system reduces electricity costs up to 75%, Drip irrigation is 95% efficient compared to 65% for overhead sprinklers. Phytonutrients and certain antioxidant vitamins and minerals are a newer area of focus in nutrition research that becomes more and more exciting every year, they are a type of plant compound that have a ton of health benefits. Gene recombination technology has generated both expectation and anxiety among its many followers. On the one hand, this new technology demonstrates a potential for increasing agricultural productivity. On the other hand, it enhances the risk of damaging the natural environment and consumers ‘health. The field of epigenetics involves the study of “potentially heritable changes in gene expression, work however, does not involve changes to the DNA sequence. Instead it entails changing a phenotype without changing the genotype, which changes how cells read the genes.

Crop sub sector Overview: Pakistan’s principal natural resources are arable land and water. About 25% of Pakistan’s agriculture accounts for about 21% of GDP and employs about 43% of the labour force. In Pakistan, the most dominant agricultural province is Punjab where wheat and cotton are the most grown. Mango orchards are mostly found in Sindh and Punjab provinces that make Pakistan the world’s 4th largest producer of mangoes.

Pakistan has a rich and vast natural resource base, covering various ecological and climatic zones; hence the country has great potential for producing all types of food commodities.

Punjab: It extends over an area of 205,345 square kilometers (97,192 square miles) which is 25.8% of the total area of Pakistan. Punjab’s economy is mainly agricultural, although industry makes a substantial contribution. The province is playing a leading role in agricultural production. It contributes about 68% to annual food grain production in the country. Fifty-one million acres is cultivated and another 9.05 million acres are lying as cultivable waste in different parts of the province. Punjab’s economy is mainly agricultural, although industry makes a substantial contribution.

Sindh: It has a geographical area of 140,900 square kilometers. The province lies between 23 and 29-degree north latitude (near tropic of cancer) and 67 and 71 degrees’ east longitude. The Province is surrounded by land in all directions expect there is Arabian sea in the south west.

CROP ZONES

According to the climatic and soil condition of the province, different areas are suitable for different crops e.g., lower part of the province is best for sugarcane, coconut, banana and papaya plantation. The plains of middle Sindh are suitable for dry crops. In the Upper Sindh and right bank areas of the Indus river crop is grown richly. The Eastern portion of the province and kacho areas are suitable for rain fed crops, like millets and guar. The suitability of areas for main crops in detail is in accordance with the soil and climatic condition of the province as under:

Upper Sindh: Larkana, Shikarpur and Jacobabad are suitable for growing rice as main crop, matter, rape and mustard and safflower/sunflower as dobari crops. Sukkur & Khairpur districts are best suited for dry crops viz: cotton, wheat, rape and mustard and sunflower.

Middle Sindh: Nawabshah, Nausherferoz and Dadu districts are dry crop tracts. There cotton, rape and mustard and sunflower are grown successfully.

Lower Sind Upper part of Hyderabad (Hala, Hyderabad & Tando Allayar Sub Division), Sanghar & Mirpurkhas district are suitable for cotton, wheat, sunflower, soybean, rape and mustard and groundnut (in Sanghar only).

Tando Mohammad Khan sub division of Hyderabad district, Badin and Thatta districts are suitable for sugarcane and rice crops. In addition to the said crops; sunflower, and rape and mustard are also grown as dobari. Mash and masoor pulses are also suitably grown in Thatta & Badin districts.

Desert and Kacho Area: The rain-fed areas of Thar district and kacho tracts of Hyderabad, Dadu Larkana districts are suitable for millet and sorghum crops, Guar, Seas mum and caster crops also flourish very well in desert areas of Thar after rai.

Land Utilization: It is estimated that 62% of geographical area of Sindh is arid, comprising Thar, Nara and Kohistan, beside a large area under coastal belt (350 km) and Katcha area.

Total Area: 14.09 Million Hectare
Cultivated Area: 04.87 Million Hectare 35%
Un-cultivated Area: 06.77 Million Hectare 48%
Forest Area: 01.03 Million Hectare 7%
Culture able Waste: 01.42 Million Hectare 10%

The economic development of Sindh largely depends on the progress and growth of agriculture sector.

Balochistan: Agriculture holds a pivotal position in the economy of Balochistan. About 75% of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on this sector. Micro agro-climatic conditions divide the province into a number of zones.

There is 1.98-million-hectare area available for crop cultivation. In addition, 3.97 million hectares’ area is culturable waste. Canals and tube wells are the two main sources of irrigation.

Agriculture production activities in Balochistan 2007-08:

Geographical Area 34.72 M.Ha
Cultivated Area 1.98 M.Ha
Culturable Waste 3.97 M.Ha

Balochistan possesses the potential to grow almost all kinds of fruits ranging from tropical to sub tropical to deciduous. Coastal land grows excellent quality fruits i.e. dates, bananas, chikoo etc. The uplands are highly suitable to produce deciduous fruits. This area is specialized in the production of apples, grapes, apricots, almonds, cherries, etc. There is a tremendous potential both in yield and quality improvement through introduction of new pre-harvest as well as post-harvest technologies to enhance productivity.

In Balochistan, many options are available to produce Bio-diesel from different plants such as Jatropha, Pongamia (Sukh Chain) or Algae (Kai), which is found on waste water streams. Jatropha can be grown in marginal and barren (waste) land.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa: The production of horticultural crops has assumed great significance in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan due to the diversified topography, agroclimatic conditions, good quality irrigation water and soil type. The profitability from horticultural enterprise is not substantially good due to numerous factors major among which are invariably value added products and marketing related. Horticultural crops include fruits, vegetables, medicinal herbs, spices, flowers and ornamental and aromatic plants. These crops provide a valuable enterprise for local and international markets. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, fruits grown in cool temperate climate are apples, plums, pears, peach, and cherries, whereas in warm temperate climate are apricots, persimmon, and melon. In the subtropical climate citrus, dates and guava are produced on large scales that have a large global market.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa also produces a wide range of vegetable as potatoes, onions, tomatoes, squashes, peas, beans, okra, turnip, brinjal and a large number of root and leafy vegetables. Pakistan has been exporting fruits over long periods of time.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has been producing many fruits, vegetables and flowers almost around the year. There is a need to link up a production system with consumers demand overseas. In addition, province has not focused on non-conventional commodities as cut flowers, mushrooms and spices. Horticulture sector of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa carries huge potential for investment.

There are several key crops, which have significantly higher per hectare yield, which include jowar, maize, rice, sesamum, sugarcane, tobacco and wheat etc. Their yield can be further improved by applying modern farming techniques and better resource management.

INVESTMENT GROWTH POTENTIAL

A large area of land is available for corporate farming or cloud funding. As much as 30% (3.4 MT) of horticultural produce that goes to waste every year, can be converted into economic gain by investing agribusiness value chain industries.

In a rules-based international system where your influence is measured by the size of your economy, your cultural soft-power, and your stature in multilateralism. We are a member, a strong supporter of, many organizations, an advocate for a values-based international system, and a vocal critic of India and its interference in other countries.

NETHERLANDS AGRICULTURE (ROLE MODEL)

The Netherlands boasts a leadership position across agriculture, and is second only to the United States in agri exports. The country leads the world in onion production, takes the No. 2 spot for its quality of water transportation and is home to some of Europe’s largest sea terminals including the Port of Rotterdam and the Port of Amsterdam.

Additionally, the “Gateway to Europe,” as the Netherlands is also known, has taken a leadership position in the implementation of agriculture technology.

“In the Netherlands, agriculture is a high-tech business. Technology has turned our small country into the world’s second-biggest exporter of agricultural products and services,” said Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a Sept. 2016 speech.

The Dutch have a long history of venture capital dating back to the 1600’s including the establishment of the Dutch East India Company, the first multinational corporation to fund both private and public ventures, and the first company to issue shares. AG tech is also part of their national DNA as it helped their nation’s economy thrive. Some facts & figures:

– The Netherlands is the world’s 2nd largest exporter of agricultural products, after the USA. The total value of Dutch agricultural exports was 75.4 billion euro in 2012.

– Four of the world’s top 25 food and beverage companies are in the Dutch and 12 have a major production site or R&D facilities in the Netherlands.

– The Food Valley region, centered at Wageningen University and Research Center, is one of the most authoritative agri-food and nutrition research centers in Europe. It includes the largest food testing pilot plant in Europe and is open to the entire food and ingredient industry.

In the next decades, both the growing population and economic growth will result in an increased demand for crop and food production. However, there are significant concerns about declining levels of yield gain due to water shortages, reduced use of pesticides and global warming. Besides the traditional focus on increasing consumption, today’s technology allows us to produce individually designed human dietary proteins based on the application of biotechnology to molecular nutrition. These proteins can deliver specific health benefits such as managing diabetes or reducing obesity.

Given the window of opportunity, there are still relatively few active VCs in the AG sector. Traditionally, Limited partners (LPs) and Venture capitalist (VCs) have been skeptic to step into AG tech. However, recent developments indicate that the industry is about to change. AG is a data hungry industry that, historically, has not been served very well.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL INTENSIFICATION MODEL

There’s debate now that the mainstream industrial model of farming, with intensive use of pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers, leads to ecological death zones with agro-chemical runoff and pollution of groundwater systems. A consensus is emerging that addressing the new challenges requires a Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI) for more precise farming in small and large farms throughout the world. A simple operational definition of SAI is to deliver more product (food and other agricultural goods) per unit of input resource, whilst preventing damage to natural resources and ecosystem services that underpin human health and wellbeing both now and in the future.

Depending on the context, improved performance may mean any or all of the following: increased profitability and productivity(agricultural outputs such as food, feed, fiber, and biofuels), enhanced use of local resources, high efficiency and returns from external inputs, improved crop and livestock yield stability, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, enhanced ecological resilience, and environmental services provision (e.g. clean water, flood protection, recreational and cultural landscape values). Not all of these outcomes can be achieved at once or simultaneously everywhere. Trade-offs among different ecosystem services are often required to achieve SAI. High priority must be given to helping farmers worldwide adapt to climate change and weather extremes by building more resilient agricultural systems. Otherwise, world food security will be at tremendous risk and other development goals cannot be achieved. Simply speaking, SAI aims to reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture while meeting all of its other goals. That requires making farming more precise by implementing genetic, agro-ecological, as well as socioeconomic intensification measures, and having the necessary support systems in place for maximum impact.

Other terms proposed in the literature include, for example, ecological intensification, eco-efficient agriculture or agro-ecological intensification.

THE FIGHT FOR FOOD

The United Nations predicts that the world will need to increase its food production by 70 percent by 2050 to feed a population expected to rise from 7 billion today to 9 billion. But even now, agricultural practices are not sustainable, driving habitat destruction, deforestation, and biodiversity loss worldwide. Feeding a growing global population which will increasingly be concentrated in urban areas will no doubt be challenging. But Digby Hall, architect and director at Sydney-based Weaver Studio, noted that cities have the potential to be “powerhouses of food production”.

The Urby residential complex in New York City, which houses an urban food garden that supplies vegetables to residents as well as three restaurants in the neighborhood. There are many forms that food production in cities can take, said Hall. These range from food farms in residential complexes or unused car park lots to more technologically advanced solutions such as aquaculture—systems where fish and plants are grown in the same space—vertical gardens, and even robots that can automatically plant, water, and weed farming plots in urban gardens. Many of these solutions already exist, but much more can be achieved if these tools are combined with one another, said Hall.

IRAN IS MOVING ALL VEGETABLE GROWING INTO GREENHOUSES

Iran will be converting all its vegetable farms to greenhouses within 10 years, The Financial Tribune reports. Its agriculture minister expects to save 10 billion cubic meters of water per year with the shift to protected agri. The Financial Tribune reports that Iran had 10,000 hectares of greenhouse cultivation. The plan is to increase it to 48,355 hectares over 10 years.

“This is a fascinating development for greenhouse vegetable technology. Iran is showing some forethought and leadership in planning for food production for the future,” says Rick Snyder, Extension/Research Professor with Mississippi State University. Snyder also heads up the Greenhouse Tomato Short Course, which is taking place next week on March 7 to 8.

“Greenhouse vegetable production is clearly a more efficient way of growing food compared to field production. Not only does it conserve valuable water resources as noted in the article, it uses fertility, pesticides, and labor more efficiently as well,” Snyder says.

Iran is not the first country to convert most of its vegetable production, although few are planning to have 100% of their vegetables grown under glass.

ECOSYSTEM FUNCTIONING

Pollinators, habitat engineers and natural pest controllers are at the heart of a functioning ecosystem. We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment. The chemicals like organophosphates, DDT, pesticides that were phased out in the 1970s for their devastating environmental impact.

Now Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, said the neonicotinoid insecticides used to grow corn, canola and other crops are a “major threat to both nature and people.” It’s unprecedented, this level of health professionals’ concern. Neonics, which are temporarily banned in Europe, make the crops toxic to field pests such as worms and grubs, but also bees, butterflies and other beneficial pollinators.

Farmers say neonics, which have become widely used in the past decade, are safer for people and the environment than older chemicals. The chemical companies that sell seeds coated with neonics say they are safe when used as directed.

But neonics are said to be partly to blame for the rise in bee mortality rates in several countries, worsening the effects of viruses, mites and long winters. The report that caused the greatest stir was published in July of this year.

To be continued (this is a part I of this article – second part and the rest of the same will be published in our next issue.) The author is from: AMAN AGRICONSULT CO — P4722 Street 5/2 Green View Colony, Rajwa Wala, Faisalabad-Pakistan and 9479 Street 119, BC Canada, V4C 6M8 EMAIL: amanch@amagriconsult.com WEBSITE www.amanagriconsultco.ca

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