STAFF REPORT LHR: Adoption of modern agricultural technology can contribute towards boosting farm productivity in Pakistan which badly needs innovations like biotechnology in order to address new challenges in the sector.

“Crop improvement through conventional farming is a rational strategy, but it is unable to meet the challenges of increasing food demand because of surging population growth,” said Principle scientist at National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) Dr Aftab Bashir while talking to media here.

The NIBGE, which is proactively conducting research on Biotechnology (BT) crops, believes that the agricultural biotechnology has reached a stage that their use at commercial level becomes a reality.

According to Dr Aftab, Genetically-Modified (GM) food technology should be utilised for strengthening crop improvement system, besides ensuring food security. Biotech crops not only have higher productivity but is also a land saving technology, viable for biodiversity.

He said that NIBGE focused on five major crops including cotton wheat, rice, sugarcane and potato. However, several steps are required to take technology to end-users, including approval for laboratory and field testing of genetically-modified crops by the National Biosafety Committee (NBC).

In Pakistan where outdated farming practices and water scarcity create food shortages, the biotechnology has potential to meet the challenges of increasing food demand due to ever-growing population. Presently 90 per cent of cotton crop in Pakistan is Biotech.

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