FPCCI and BMP Secretary General Chaudhry Ahmad Jawad has said that Pakistan should seek Chinese support in initiating a seed breeding programme for major crops,
Especially cotton and wheat, for better productivity.
Major Crops, Talking to Business Recorder, Jawad said the agriculture sector had been facing a chronic policy-and-investment neglect. This was partly due to its reduced contribution to the GDP.
It was also due to rapid urbanization at the cost of cultivable lands and the fact that a majority of the farmers (owners of small landholdings) had no means to get the policymaker’s attention.
“Pakistan needs substantial investment in agricultural supply chain management. We even lack quality storage and transport facilities, especially cold storage facilities and refrigerated transport to handle perishable food commodities, especially meat and dairy products. Acquiring these facilities would play a key role in determining the fate of agri-trade, both in domestic and international markets.”
Major Crops, Even as we fight the coronavirus pandemic, something that most Pakistanis would not know was that we had been fighting another virus for more than a decade now.
The “curl leaf virus” was a pathogenic virus that affected cotton plants, causing its leaves to curl upwards and growth to become stunted, resulting in significantly lower yields.
Despite the fact that cotton and textiles had been a major export of Pakistan, successive governments had been unable to combat the virus, leaving the cotton farmers frustrated and angry. This inability was a testament to the neglect that the agriculture sector had seen in the country.
The government often describes Pakistan as an agrarian society, a fact that is repetitively drilled into our heads by social studies textbooks. Yet, the agricultural sector remains starved of attention. Even as the government announced a multi-billion rupee rescue and relief package for textile mills, the farmers who grow cotton for those mills were conveniently ignored.
He also said that control operations were in progress against hopper groups and bands in the Nagarparkar area of southeast Sindh. Groups of adults were maturing in Tharparkar and Cholistan deserts where laying was expected in areas that had already received monsoon rains.
This would cause a further increase in locust numbers as hatching and hopper band formation occur in the coming weeks.
Jawad said though all provinces were affected by the locust attack, yet the damage remained below fifty percent in all the areas due to timely intervention of the National Locust Control Centre.
The latest findings of the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggest that a small swarm (over an area of a square kilometer) may contain up to 80 million locusts. They can consume the same amount of food in one-day as 35,000 people, while a large swarm can eat up to 1.8 million metric tons of green vegetation, food enough to feed 81 million people.
“Pakistan has only one to two months to win the war against local swarms. After that more locust swarms may migrate to Pakistan from Africa,” said Jawad.
According to official figures, fifty-seven-million acres of area had been affected by locust this year of which twenty-three-million acres were agricultural land.
He also urged the government to take measures for import substitution of edible oil where Pakistan spends more than $3.2 billion.
The import of edible oil and its seed has doubled since 2014.
“In Sindh, the cultivated area of oil seed has declined from 260,000 hectares to 80,000 hectares,” he said.
“No measures have been announced to arrest the decline in cotton production from 14.8 million bales five to six years ago to around nine million bales this year in Pakistan,” he added.
This news was originally published at brecorder.com