*FAO’s Country Director to dscuss high-value crops and agriculture in Pakistan*
Islamabad: Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam met with FAO’s Country Director, Rebekah Bell in the Minister’s office to dscuss high-value crops and agriculture in Pakistan.
The minister said that nutrition is a basic right of every human being and therefore the Ministry of National Food Security holds a very important place in the betterment of Pakistan. The minister said that wheat, maize, mangoes, citrus and livestock among many others are Pakistan’s top produces and Pakistan has potential in cotton, soybean, floriculture and organic farming in the coming future.
The minister added that livestock accounts for almost 61 percent of agriculture’s GDP in Pakistan therefore sufficient vaccine for the Foot and Mouth Disease is necessary for the agriculture secor’s imporvement. The minister showed his interest in the revival of the cotton sector in Pakistan with great zeal saying that the cotton crop provides to fodder, edible oil raw material, and women employment than just cotton.
“It hurts me that cotton is no longer our prized crop,” said the minister mentioning that cotton has to be defoliated five times in Pakistan as compared to just once as the rest of the world due to obsolete technology and disease. The minister said that, “implementation is marginal even though a lot of studies have taken place. The problem is in the management and implementation.”
The minister said that Pakistan needs to value quality of it’s crops rather than just the quantity for instance the value of sugarcane with 8pc sucrose content should be lower than that of 13pc sucrose content but it is all valued the same in Pakistan as compared to the rest of the world.
“We should be exporting not importing lentils,” the minister said talking abouut lowered lentil production. The minister said that 70% of the wheat germplasm comes from CIMMYT but there is no assurance of if it is the highest quality of germplasm available and that Pakistan deserves the best quality of germplasm that is available in the world.
The country director said that legislative and policy changes are needed for the agricultur sector to flourish such as incentives to farmers, microcredit etc. FAO is providing technical support to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to carry out an integrated census on agriculture for better planning. It was also discussed that the major requirements for the seed sector are in place. The seed act has also included biotechnology and variety testing. They pointed out that Pakistan needs to get rid of obsolete varients of seeds and sow newer ones and that Pakistan lacks forecasting tools and production technology. For agricultural reform, Pakistan needs food reform which can be started by good practices and the inroduction of a food control system.