Pakistan is blessed to have 40% arable (plough-able) land. Most of the countries on the world map do not have that percentage of land for their agricultural growth. Though agricultural growth is not a prerequisite for a prosperous economy, yet, it can provide self-sufficient food and raw material for many industrial products like textile and the industrial growth of any country is directly dependent upon agriculture. Yes, industrial growth can impact the economic outlook of the country provided the raw material is available in abundance. The rest of the economic projection can only be achieved through introducing fourth generation technologies based on internet communication systems.
The nexus of third generation and fourth generation technologies is natural and was inevitable for further development. One had to adopt the automated digital systems for their industries in order to save time and manpower. This combination was the only way forward to meet fast growing demands of the growing population. For instance, gigantic infrastructural development had not been possible without automated cement production units. Innovations related to the fields of engineering were not possible without the intervention of fourth generation technologies. Digital age has changed the concept of engineering mechanics altogether. In short, the old techniques and practices will become irrelevant and impractical if one fails to adopt upcoming trends and technologies.
The agriculture sector of Pakistan constitutes the largest sector of our economy and contributes about 21% of GDP. This sector has the potential to contribute even more to the county’s GDP, if we start tech-based agricultural practices. Pakistan needs to adopt a fourth generation innovative approach to the traditional and old agricultural techniques. There is no doubt that agriculture research institutes in Pakistan are very progressive and contributing much to agricultural productivity. Scientist and biotechnologists in Pakistan have achieved the diversification in seed development and moved to higher value-added seeds, particularly in the crops sector. Resultantly, we are producing surplus of wheat, maize (pulses) and sugarcane, according to the statistics of Pakistan Agriculture Research Council. However, all good practices are required to be adopted throughout the country of Pakistan so that productivity of the ordinary farms may also increase like the productivity at the research centers.
In recent years, special measures have been taken by the Government of Pakistan including the concessions of Rs. 15 billion in taxes and duties, increase in agriculture credit from Rs. 336 billion to Rs. 600 billion and tariff reduction for agriculture tube wells. All these steps were promising, and encouraged the farmer community to promote this sector. However, agricultural development cannot be achieved by offering subsidies and tax concessions, rather we have to encourage and promote smart agricultural practices to build the resilience of our agriculture sector and the said resilience can only be achieved by clipping science and technology together with our agriculture practices.
For instance, environment and climate are the major external factors that impact our agricultural growth leading to food insecurity. Climate change projections accompanied by the rapidly changing weather patterns needs to be studied through proper climate change research centers, so as to adopt mechanisms protecting us from excessive rain-fall, melting of glaciers, floods and, sometimes drought spells. Likewise we also need to focus on integrated pest management techniques and systematic surveillance for the prevention of pest, disease and parasites in crops and livestock in Pakistan. The concept of a model dairy farming has now become redundant, we need to develop fully automated and computerised modern dairy farms. The world has now gone beyond hand and vacuum bucket milking, to the milking parlors that can milk dozens of cows at a time. Pakistan is still struggling with the old practices in the dairy farming and we are thus forced to use tea-whiteners and chemically processed milk.
Pakistan is a country where we often experience floods in one year and drought in the very next season. Apart from constructing small and big dams, we should focus on water resource management for agricultural purposes. It is high time to replicate world-wide modern irrigation techniques to enhance agricultural productivity. Sprinkler, drip and central pivot irrigation systems are the latest techniques, which ensure productivity with the small amounts of water. Hence water can be saved by applying these modern tech-based methods. Moreover, all these systems have now been digitized and operate through information technology, saving time and avoiding mismanagement. All the modern techniques should be replicated after tailor made alterations keeping in view our local settings, environmental factors, atmospheric conditions and topography.
We also need to strengthen the weak linkage between our farmers’ community and industry that has not been able to transform our agriculture commodities as per our local market requirements. For our agricultural commodities to compete in the international market is still not very far, provided we start establishing our processing units in accordance to our agriculture yield. There is no denying the fact that technology and innovation can play a vital role in accelerating and deepening the agriculture growth. We definitely need to streamline inadequately organised research systems for innovative solutions to sort out our problems related to agriculture. By developing tech-based agriculture in Pakistan, we would not only be able to strengthen the backbone of our economy we would also be able to lift up the social standing of our rural populace.