Agri emergency can help ensure food security

RAWALPINDI – National food security can be achieved by clamping five years emergency in the agriculture sector, Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University (PMASAAU) Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Rai Niaz Ahmed said here on Sunday.
“Seeing the population boom and water scarcity, the country is in dire need of achieving food security and the goal can be attained through invoking emergency in the agriculture sector,” he said. Dr Niaz, who has long experience in irrigation and agriculture sectors besides holding post doctoral degrees, said, “Currently we are celebrating 70th year of Pakistan’s existence and need of the hour is to pledge for attaining food security.”
The country, he said, had all the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal easily if the same were tapped and utilised in an appropriate manner. He said the country was bestowed with a variety of seasons and weathers and was fully capable of meeting the challenges ahead by adopting an appropriate and timely approach for securing the future of coming generations.
Quoting his experiences and educational expertise, Dr Niaz said that agri yield could go up manifold by adopting a progressive approach coupled with techniques and skills. “Our large on-farm experiments have shown results proving that agri yield per acre can go beyond 200 percent to 500 percent by adopting the latest methods and techniques for irrigation, growing and harvesting.”
He said adoption of “Hybrid” technology was now a history of the past whereas it was high time to go for advanced methods for agriculture like “Hydroponics” and “Drip Irrigation” technologies. By adopting those techniques would not only help boost yield to 500 times but also get rid of hefty spending on fertilisers, pesticides and germicides, he added.
He said the university had already started on-farm training and imparting skills to the growers about advanced agriculture and if resources were made available that programme could be taken to the entire country or at least to the provincial level. Opposing the ongoing practice of sowing wheat in the Potohar plateau, he said the growers due to inability of proper information, education and skills had not only been wasting resources but also loosing hefty returns by planting and sowing inappropriate kinds and species.
He said they required to plant and sow best suited kinds, species and varieties according to areas’ soil and environment as well as irrigation resources to boost their earnings, besides helping achieve security of the most vital sector. He pointed out that the region being rain-fed fields required to concentrate on sowing or planting vegetables or fruit thus earning better returns. If done so, he said, the region had the potential to amply meet the requirements of the entire country in fruit and vegetable sectors.
Dilating future plans, Dr Niaz said the PMASAAU was working to open up its satellite campuses in Murree, Attock and Khushab with the major aim to providing skilful hand to help the poor growers of the respective areas where traditional agri methods were order of the day. He said the region had been proven to be the best for producing citrus, olives, dates, grapes, fig, apple, almond and variety of vegetables besides good quality tomatoes by adopting tunnel irrigation, therefore the grower was required to educate to grow cash crop instead.
He said the university with the aim to make Hydroponic technology sustainable in the country had set up Institute of Hydroponic Agriculture (IHA) catering to the needs in training, research and development and indigenisation of equipment and spares. The IHA, he said, would also help increase and diversify fruit and vegetables production technology, besides producing high yielding and better quality products. It would also go a long way in preparing models for hydroponic vegetables for kitchen gardening.

Courtesy The Nation