Pakistan being an agro-based economy has to adopt modern farming methods to increase the yield capacity. A deluge of efforts have been made earlier in this regard, however, the output at the moment suggests that the focus is missing by a wide margin. Either it is a poor implementation or the window dressing since Pakistan is still net importer of cotton, vegetables etc. which is a wake-up call for the incumbent government to take immediate measures sooner rather than later for food security and self-sustainability. There are plenty of instances in the world where some countries with no agricultural prospects have staggered the critics with their vision.
No one could ever have presumed that Singapore, a tiny country with limited agricultural land, could move with fast tempo towards food security using its limited agriculture land. By advocating the modern technology, the country has bolstered the agriculture productivity manifold and confounded the world with the yield. The agro-technology parks in Singapore comprise modern farms which use advanced technologies for intensive farming systems.
The United Arab Emirates is another marvelous instance of modern methods of agriculture in this region. The double digit surge in food consumption in the UAE is destined to be tackled with soil-less farming solutions, new greenhouse gas technology etc. The investment in agriculture sector of the UAE under the government’s long-term agricultural policy is paying dividends. The UAE currently importing over 80 percent of its food requirements would definitely achieve food security and sustainability in the days to come.
Unfortunately, Pakistan is still far behind in terms of using the modern methods of agriculture to achieve sustainability. There are certain progressive landowners who are using modern methods whereby benefitting from the mechanized agriculture. However, a large number of farmers even today are not acquainted with what the technology is. We could still see the villagers working in the fields from dawn to dusk earning meager amount at the end of the season with no future prospects. Pakistan exports agriculture products to a host of countries comprising the Middle East, Europe and United States. The exports could be expedited with higher yield, world-class quality, safety etc. which is the ultimate solution to our economic woes.
There are some commendable endeavors such as use of solar-powered tube-wells, the use of drones and substantial agricultural lending amounting sum of trillion rupees. It has been witnessed that solar-powered tube wells have buttressed the traditional farmers to a great extent in terms of drop in the cost of production along with the burgeoning output in some cases.
The use of drones for farming activities such as the applications of pesticides on crops, monitoring of weeds, pests and nutritional deficiencies etc. could bring superb output provided that the focus remains intact. The use of technology does get the desired yield along with the cultivation of various crops round the year.
The traditional farmers need to be educated through ongoing training programs about climate-smart agriculture to increase the yield capacity for sustainability. A large number of farmers even today either are not willing to adopt modern farming methods and the new farming technology or can’t afford the cost of the technology, which is far beyond their means. The agriculture loan targets set by the banks in Pakistan may play a vital role in this regard. It is high time that the loans of banks do reach to those who are marginalized farmers with the proviso of making the borrowers bound to adopt the modern technology for spike in the productivity. The World Bank has provided millions of dollars in terms of loan to modernize agriculture sector of Pakistan, however, the process seems capital-intensive and laggard.
There is no second opinion that even today, agriculture is the mainstay of our country. However, we must notice that we have less than 30 percent cultivable land with acute shortage of water for irrigation. This is the sector which employs almost half of our population and contributes around a quarter to the gross domestic product of the country.
The government needs to decide today not tomorrow where the country should be in terms of agriculture revolution, which has been discussed over decades without attaining desired and required output.