STAFF REPORT KHI: Speakers at a recently held seminar said that Pakistan is regularly suffering from funds paucity for agricultural research and development (RandD) and for this purpose more avenues should be explored to ensure sustained funding for this vital sector.

On the occasion, a survey ‘Trends in Public Agricultural RandD, Investment and Staffing in Pakistan’ was also presented which showed agricultural RandD dropping from 0.43 per cent of the GDP in 1999 to 0.21 per cent in 2009.

According to the survey, Pakistan has only 144 agricultural researchers for every million farmers and only 18 per cent of them have doctoral degrees. The majority of experts is on the verge of retirement and will leave behind a manpower challenge for agriculture.

“Agricultural RandD suffers most from the financial crisis in the country,” said Sharif, lead author of the report. “For many years the government has not been making new appointments, leading to a serious shortage of staff for agricultural research.”

“Pakistan should work to improve the agriculture sector to ensure that the food demands of the countrys growing population are met,” Mudassir Asrar, Chairperson of the Pakistan Council for Science and Technology.

She said that agriculture is among the top five priority areas mentioned in the recently launched National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.

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