Bio-technology & Technology Upgradation’ seminar
June 29, 2011:
Provincial Minister for Agriculture Ahmad Ali Aulakh said more than seven million-acre-feet of water is being wasted due to lack of planning and insufficient water reservoirs in the country.
Aulakh said this while addressing a seminar on ‘Bio-technology and Technology Upgradation’ at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Tuesday.
He said that water shortage was hitting the agriculture sector and the government would have to build small projects to channelise rainwater for irrigating farmland if early construction of big water reservoir is not possible for the time being.
Adviser to the Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Sohail Lashari, LCCI executive committee members Dr Shahid Raza, Mian Zahid Javaid and former executive committee member Rehmatullah Javed also spoke on the occasion.
Aulakh also stressed the need for utilising solar energy for running tube-wells with a view to addressing issue of rising oil prices that has increased cost of production.
“There is no doubt in it that the conversion to solar energy would cost government heavily but it would be one-time intervention and eventually become cost effective in the longer run.”
He said that Pakistan would have to focus on genetically modified and hybrid crops to tap true potential of agricultural productivity in the country. The provincial minister, while stressing the need for establishment of institutes both at provincial and federal levels for creating awareness among the farming community about Genetically Modified (GM) technology, said that sustainability and improvement in crops yield are the major challenges to meet upcoming threats of increasing population and depleting water resources.
He said biotechnology has shown considerable potential to raise agricultural productivity by addressing problems not solved through conventional research. Among other application of biotechnology, development of genetically modified organisms is the promising tool to facilitate plant breeding in development of crops to insect and tolerant to herbicide.
The minister said that GM crops have contributed to sustainable development in several significant ways, including contributing to food security and more affordable food, conserving biodiversity, alleviation of poverty and hunger, mitigating climate change and reducing greenhouses gases, contributing to the cost-effective production of bio-fuels and above all by contributing to sustainable economic benefits.
In addition to aiding in issues of food security, genetically modified crops have an important role to play in lessening the environmental impact and improving the sustainability of food production. Insect-resistant rice, for example, has the potential to benefit about one billion people.
Lashari said that Pakistan’s agriculture sector was losing heavily due to insufficient utilisation of biotechnology as the magic progress of agriculture sector is only due to GM crops. He said that agriculture sector in Pakistan has huge potential. It continues to be the single largest and dominant driving force of growth as well as the main source of livelihood for 66 percent of Pakistan’s population. But it has always faced two major problems; first, productions per acre are lower than many countries. Secondly, around 40 percent of production is wasted in the form of post-harvest losses due to insufficient utilisation of biotechnology.