Experts Warn Poor Seed Quality Threatens to Exacerbate Food Insecurity

Experts are calling for swift action to ensure farmers have access to quality seeds equipped to withstand the challenges posed by climate change and other factors.

Agricultural experts are raising concerns over the deepening crisis of food insecurity, warning that without ensuring access to quality seeds for farmers, the situation could worsen significantly.

Addressing the third Pakistan Seed Congress at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), experts emphasized the urgency of providing resilient seeds against climate change and other challenges through public-private partnerships.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan underscored the staggering annual import of agricultural products amounting to 10 billion dollars. Khan emphasized the success of hybrid seed technology in crops like corn, which has significantly boosted production.

He stressed the need to replicate such successes in other crops to overcome stagnation, citing the potential to double or even triple wheat production per acre from the current 30 maunds to 60 or 70 maunds through modern agricultural practices.

Dr. Asif Ali, Chairperson of the National Seed Development and Regulatory Authority, echoed Khan’s sentiments, emphasizing the need to increase wheat production to alleviate pressure on agricultural land. He proposed reducing wheat cultivation from 9 million hectares to 6.5 million hectares by achieving higher yields per acre, thereby freeing up 2.5 million hectares for other crops.

Ali also drew attention to India’s success in cotton production due to hybrid seed technology, with Pakistan lagging behind significantly. He stressed the importance of promoting public-private partnerships to ensure the production and delivery of quality seeds to farmers, citing the example of India’s 31.8 million bales of cotton compared to Pakistan’s 8.35 million bales.

Pro-Vice Chancellor UAF and Dean of Agriculture, Dr. Muhammad Sarwar Khan, emphasized the pivotal role of quality seeds in enhancing agricultural production.

He announced the establishment of a Seed Centre at the university in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, which will spearhead research and outreach efforts to promote model seed varieties. Additionally, he highlighted the need for innovative approaches to break the stagnation in crop production, citing the development of two new sugarcane varieties as a significant step towards improving farmers’ economic conditions.

Mohammad Azim Khan, Director General of the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department, stressed the importance of collaborative efforts to catch up in hybrid seed technology. He emphasized the need for joint initiatives to bridge the gap and ensure farmers have access to cutting-edge seed varieties.

Dr. Irfan Afzal emphasized the urgency of strengthening academia-industry linkages and fostering a knowledge-based economy in agriculture. He underscored the success of public-private partnerships in developed countries and advocated for replicating similar models in Pakistan to drive agricultural prosperity.

As the nation grapples with the looming threat of food insecurity, experts are calling for swift action to ensure farmers have access to quality seeds equipped to withstand the challenges posed by climate change and other factors. The consensus among experts is clear: only through robust public-private partnerships and innovation can Pakistan avert a deepening agricultural crisis and pave the way for sustainable food security.