National Agriculture Commission to be set up to develop agriculture
ISLAMABAD: A National Agriculture Commission (NAC) will be set up for the development in the agricultural education and research sector, a senior government official said.
Chairing a meeting at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam said that the increase in the per acre yield, value addition, empowering small farmers, tangible research in agriculture and rural development were prerequisite for the development of the country and food security.
The government has mapped out comprehensive policies on five major crops to boost the per acre productivity, ensure food security and agriculture development, he said, adding that this year, the per acre wheat production has boosted, which was stagnant for the last 10 years, resulting in the significant increase of 2.2 million tonnes in the national wheat production. It increased 1.5 tonne/acre.
Talking about cotton, the minister said that the production of cotton in Punjab is touching 4.5 million bales, showing a growth of approximately 8.5 per cent from the last year. The overall cotton production is likely to reach 8.46 million bales, Imam said, adding that the attack of whitefly, pinball worm and CLCV remained significant, which had adversely affected the production of cotton.
He also highlighted that the provision of certified seed, value addition and mechanisation was one of the challenges in which the agriculture experts should play their pivotal role.
The government has disbursed Rs4 billion credit to the small farmers with less than 12 acres of land, which is 90 per cent of the farming community, he said, adding that the provision of quality school and health facility was essential at the rural level that will lower down the burden in the cities and will help strengthen the rural development.
Talking about fruits, Minister Imam said that the country was producing excellent fruits but exports are negligible, he said, adding that value addition and the adaptation of the international standards are prerequisite to earn foreign exchange.
“It is a matter of grave concern that we import edible oil and pulses worth billions of rupees instead of producing them at the domestic level,” he said.
Talking about research, he said the spending on research and development remained minimal from 1991 to 2012 in Pakistan. The impact can be seen on the per hectare yields of major crops such as wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton and maize.
An agriculture council must be set up to analyse the demand and supply for the agricultural students in the country, he said, adding that the under-cultivation land in the country was 50 million hectares, of which 32 million is irrigated.
The minister said: “We had ignored the agriculture sector for the last 25 years, which is a matter of serious concern.”
“Agriculture is a powerful sector that employs 43 per cent of the main force,” he said, adding: “The neighbouring countries are progressing at a large pace, whereas we were far-lagging behind in modern agriculture practices.”
No nation can make the development in the modern era without investing in Human Resource Development. “We need to learn from other nations’ experiences,” the minister added.
The modern seed technology will not only reduce the cost of the production but also make the crop profitable. This will enable both the farmers and the country to move towards prosperity, Imam said, adding: “We had been ahead of China and Korea five decades ago. But now we are far-lagging behind.
Both these countries invested in education and learn from other nations’ experiences, he said and called for curriculum reforms in agriculture and reverse engineering.
UAF vice chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said that FSC Agriculture should be revived that will help produce the dedicated agriculturists.
Agriculture as a subject must be revived at the school level, he said, adding that the blend of corn and wheat should be introduced to cope with the increasing malnutrition issue.
Khan said that with the help of KOICA, the Pak-Korea Nutrition Center has been established at the UAF to tackle the challenge. UAF was making all-out efforts of the farming community, agriculture and rural development with the help of trained manpower, research and outreach.
He said there is the need to bring reform in the educational system to facilitate the people living in rural areas.
Pro-vice chancellor Prof Dr Anas Sarwar said that a quality milk producing center should be set up. The country was importing animal vaccination worth billions of rupees, he added.
Later, all the deans gave presentations on the occasion.
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