The only answer to country’s ever-increasing food requirements is a hydroponic system of growing in the wake of massive population growth in the last few years, said Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad, Vice Chancellor of Pir Mehr Ali Shah-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR).
Hydroponics is a technique of agriculture sector which will open more dimensions for the agriculture sector and Pakistan can increase agricultural production by utilizing its mountains, deserts and barren areas, said the Vice-chancellor. Hydroponics system, in which cultivation is done by feeding and water under a specific process by controlling climate into favorable conditions, can surely lead the agriculture sector towards a fruitful direction.
The VC said indigenous hydroponic/soil-less system designed by PMAS-AAUR can prove to be a milestone in increasing the capability of agro products for up to 40 times. “Indigenous hydroponics system can give the same yield as European hydroponics system, but its cost is 100 times lower than the European system.
Through traditional means, farmers get five to seven tons in tunnels but through this system, production can go up to 300 tons with a potential yield of 500 tons per acre,” he said.The vice chancellor said safe, nutritious, delicious and high-quality vegetables and fruits with enhanced nutritional value and amazing taste can be grown in a healthy environment.
He urged the educational institutes and other organizations to work together to raise awareness of the technology among the farming community to get maximum benefits and better returns of their production.
Arid University is launching the project entitled “Testing Indigenous Hydroponic Greenhouse for Vegetable Growing” funded by Punjab Agriculture Department” comprises of establishing six hydroponic greenhouses at different institutions aimed at training of trainers while six greenhouses at farmers’ premises in various districts of Punjab aimed at “Seeing is Believing” for the extension of this technology, he said, and added that training of 200 farmers was being conducted under the project which includes lessons on greenhouse erection, crop sowing, crop management and harvesting of fruit.
About the role of his university in the promotion of the latest techniques in the agriculture sector, Dr. Niaz Ahmed said the main objective of the institution is to produce the best scientists in the field of agriculture. He said the university commits to achieving this objective by sharing innovative ideas and experiences in the agricultural community.
He said the university has been exploring possibilities of creating a new agricultural landscape, especially in the Potohar region through the exploitation of its topography, nutrients rich soils, and the climate.
The vice chancellor said besides increasing enrollment in existing degree programs establishment of Institute of Hydroponic Agriculture, Institute of Geo-Information & Earth Observation and the Institute of Food & Nutrition is another achievement during his four years of service at the University.
Dr. Rai Niaz said BSc (Hons) Agriculture, BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition & Dietetics. BS Economics, BS Biochemistry, BSc Dairy Technology and BSc (Hons) Agriculture were set up at different campuses of the University in the last four years.
University has also planned and executed a number of initiatives such as Mehria Nursery, Aquarium-cum-Aviary, Ostrich Farming, Mehr Water, Seed Certification Centre, Animal Feed Mill, Wheat Processing Plant, Biogas Plant, Compost Centre, Trellising Work Station for Fruit Orchards, Poultry Farming, Dairy Farming and the Fancy Birds Breeding Centre aimed at equipping the young graduates with self-employment opportunities to make a positive contribution to national development but also provide livelihood for them.