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December 6, 2018

Scientists urged to increase crop productivity


December 6, 2018

LAHORE: A three-day international conference on plant sciences Wednesday began at the Government College University Lahore under the auspices of its Botany Department and Higher Education Commission.

Eminent biologist Prof Dr Kauser Abdulla Malik was the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony of the conference which was also addressed by Dr Kun-Fang Cao from Guanxi University, China.

The speakers discussed the looming threat of food insecurity to the world at the opening day of the conference which was attended by seven foreign delegates from China, Germany, Canada and USA. They stressed plant scientists to increase crop productivity, pathogen resistance and sustainability of existing crops.

In his inaugural address, Dr Safdar Ali Mirza, the conference chairman, said that the world's human population was predicted to reach 9 billion by 2040. “Some estimate that with this rate of population growth will require the world's agricultural production to increase 50pc by 2030,” he added.

Dr Mirza told the participants that the aim of the conference was to provide a forum to discuss practical challenges encountered and seek research collaborations among universities and institutes to proceed towards promising new developments in the different areas of plant sciences.

Speaking on this occasion, Prof Dr Kauser Abdullah Malik said Pakistan direly needed focused research for self-reliance in different walks of life. “In this context, our scientists and students must avail this opportunity of sharing new knowledge regarding different fields of plant science to set targets for improvement in quality of research,” he added.

GCU Dean Prof Islam Ullah Khan said the planet's water resources were under immense pressure, the amount of fresh water available per person had decreased four times in the last 60 years and of the water that is available, 70pc was already being used for agriculture. “Thus, agricultural production must be intensified to feed more people with less water on the same amount of land,” he added

Furthermore, the dean said, pathogens that caused devastating crop losses continued to spread in the face of increased global commerce and climate change. “Given these challenges, there is a pressing need for plant research to produce solutions to ensure food security in a sustainable and safe way,” he said.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah highlighted the need for development of basic plant research discoveries into technologies or approaches that improved agriculture. He said that modern research was complex and multidisciplinary and it was not possible for a single university to possess all the knowledge and equipment. Therefore, he said, it was imperative to establish academic and research links and share resources, expertise and equipment with each other.

Dr Kun-Fang Cao delivered his key note address on increasing hydraulic efficiency along with hydraulic safety and mechanic strength during the evolution of basal angiosperms. About 200 scientists are scheduled to present their papers at the three-day conference spread over 12 technical sessions.

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