Nov 24 - 30, 2008

Green revolution in China in 1980s was sparked by harnessing of modern biology and technology for increasing productivity of agriculture products. Realizing the importance of agriculture in economic development, Chinese government has been updating techniques to expand yields from agriculture in concurrence with scientific evolution in the era for years and, therefore, able to record enormous exports of over $20 billion only from agriculture sector. By learning from agro-expertise of Chinese and cooperation with China can be helpful for Pakistan to minimize post harvest losses and increase agriculture productivity through managing inputs like seeds, water, land, and energy in prudence.

Even though Pakistan's agriculture production can not equate China's due to stark difference in size of cultivation areas similarities in main crops produced on farmlands and geography can make it at least able to imitate successful agro models of China. China's main grain crops are wheat, corn, soybeans, and tuber and paddy rice is its major grain crop which is also of Pakistan. Other major crops in Pakistan are cotton lint, buffalo milk, and wheat. Pakistan's agriculture growth is moving with 3.1 percent whereas China's with 3.3 percent. While share of agriculture sector in overall economic growth of Pakistan is around 25 percent it is not over 17 percent in China.

China has made diversification in its wide range of crops cultivation only through application of modern and cost effective techniques. It has revolutionized farm production by splitting single purposed utilization of seed into transgenic multiuse and engineering high yielding crop varieties, pesticides, and fertilizers. It was transgenic cotton seed that increased annual cotton production of the country to 7 million tons. While China has allowed use of transgenic cotton and potato seeds in farmlands only hybrid cotton seed has gained popularity in farmers who widely plant insect resistant Bt cotton. Although rice seed underwent genetics modification increasing yield of crop in China, the large cultivation area has basically it 185 million metric tons annual rice production. Notably, annual rice production-main export revenue spinner-in Pakistan does not exceed 7 million metric tons.

Hybrid technology produces virus free and disease free seeds. With parallel proportion of criticism over its application, molecular biotechnology applied to produce genetically modified crop seed has China get rid of myriad of agriculture related problems such as low yield and loss of farmland to urbanization. A group of scientists in Pakistan agriculture and research council has also designed 'Rice Transplanter' to enhance crop productivity. According to PARC the machine, manufactured in Heavy Mechanical Complex, has given satisfactory performance in fields in Sindh and Punjab.

Government of Punjab has been active to make cooperation with Chinese farming industry and its chief minister has visited china recently to find ways in which any cooperation would be made. Cooperation in drip technology and hybrid cotton was centered on the discussion. Farmlands in China have greatly benefited from innovative methods of water resource management, which is adequate for cultivating wide range of crops. Apart from this, controlled alternate partial root zone irrigation being practiced in China to make irrigation efficient and improve crop water use efficiency can be instrumental in resolving water problems of arable lands in all provinces of Pakistan.

Unfortunately in Pakistan agriculture sector could not avail the advantages of technological advancements and therefore is missing originally growth stimulants. Either due to government apathy or unwillingness of growers to upgrade or sluggish research activities agriculture production has been stagnant or slowly increasing for years in Pakistan. Debates ensued to decide about importance of agriculture in economic development have left the economy at bay and damned precious years in which focus over agriculture development could have been result oriented. Where did the fault lie? Are so called economists who overshadowed real economic growth agent by exaggerating potential of service sector responsible for misdirection? Or are policy makers who misconstrued services sector as sole driver of economic development culpable for inadvertently being ignorant? The gospel truth that Pakistan is an agrarian economy should not be ignored. At a time, it does equally good to economy with widened trade deficit, rising unemployment, and prospect of slow economic growth.

Pakistan can increase its export to Middle East and Europe if it brings increment in its agriculture productivity. Many foreign nations have expressed their interests to invest in agriculture sector of Pakistan. Especially large orders of agro products can be generated from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain which all have agriculture share in export below decimal. Pak-Sino cooperation in improving agriculture productivity can open up new market for Pakistan's agro based products. Chinese progress in establishment of greenhouse for growing vegetables in the suburbs and utilization of renewable energy resources in agriculture is remarkable. Canned food generates a major export volume for China. Pakistan ranked second in world for producing buffalo milk, goat meat, and chick peas can multiply export revenue in canned food industry by learning from international expertise.

According to FAO, 54 different international funded agriculture projects are on going in Pakistan. Oman, Indonesia, and Italy are inclining to invest in food sector of Pakistan. Since research is weak in Pakistan, international cooperation should be sought after to establish scientific agro research institutes and universities. Feedbacks and inputs from economists and researchers are very essential to funnel agriculture potentials to economic development.

At present, growers are making hue and cry over spiking cost of energy and supply shortage of inputs. Research nurseries can be effective in providing indigenous solutions to problems faced by agriculture sector and in designing alternate ways. Farmers and many law makers are against proposed levy of taxes on agriculture sector. Agriculturists argue that farmers are already reeling under high inflation and input supply scarcity and taxation would near the sector to downfall. Instead of scoring public sympathies by mudslinging past policies, government should designate another panel to study stimulants of green revolution in China, if it is serious in agriculture reforms.