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‘Use of biotechnology in agriculture can help alleviate food insecurity’

By our correspondents
June 22, 2016


A panel comprising Pakistani scientists on Monday urged the government to modernise agriculture for improving food security and enable alleviation of abject poverty in the country. According to the experts, absence of political will and negligence of bureaucracy to approve and implement the relevant laws was among the main reasons due to which Pakistan had been unable to explore the advantages of “biotech crops” like many developed countries.

The experts were speaking at a press conference held at the Latif Ebrahim Jamal (LEJ) National Science Information Centre of Karachi University to mark the 20th anniversary of the global commercialisation of biotech crops.

On this occasion, the Brief 51 of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications in Pakistan was also launched, after its successful release in other parts of the world.

The Director International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences KU Prof Dr M Iqbal Choudhary, Director Date Palm Research Institute (DPRI) Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur Prof Dr Ghulam Sarwar Markhand and Chairman Department of Botany Shah Abdul Latif University Prof Dr Abdul Razak Mahar, were among the speakers at the conference while the Chief Executive Officer of Cantonment Board Malir Sardar Atif Sultan participated in the event as the chief guest.

Dr Choudhary, who is also the Director Pakistan Biotechnology Information Centre, informed the audience that Pakistan was among the countries with the lowest yield per hectare.

"We have low yield due to traditional methods of cultivation and harvesting and its negative impact on crops,” he said. “Pakistan may face a severe famine since irrigation lands are being reduced due to the shortage of water.” 

He said though the agriculture sector played an essential role in Pakistan's economy, the political governments had failed to strengthen the sector that employed the most people. 

Choudhry said the use of biotechnology in agriculture sector could improve food security in the country since technology had the potential to change how agriculture was practiced.

He said the land in Pakistan was rich and fertile but unfortunately it was not utilised properly. “The country is approaching towards drastic famine as irrigation lands are being reduced due to shortage of water,” he said. “It is essential to introduce modern international practices to improve food security, especially in the wake of the large population of the country.”

He called for the provision of high quality seeds to farmers since it could increase the overall crops productivity in the country.