Adaptation of Biotech. Crops is Crucial as Pakistan is Suffering from Food Shortage and Running out of Fresh Water and Irrigable Land

Global food insecurity is the leading threat in the developing world. Strong political commitment to eliminate hunger is essential. Globally biotech crops have contributed to food security, sustainability and climate change by increasing crop productivity and helping alleviate poverty through uplifting the livelihood of farmers and agriculture related workforce.”

Pakistan is running out of fresh water, and approaching towards drastic famine as irrigation lands are being reduced due to shortage of fresh water, urbanization, salinity and deforestation. This demands urgent adaptation of modern agriculture technologies.

Prof Dr M Iqbal Choudhary, Director International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi (UoK), and Pakistan Biotechnology Information Center (PABIC), expressed these views while speaking at a press conference held at the Latif Ebrahim Jamal (LEJ) National Science Information Center, University of Karachi (UoK) on Wednesday.

The objective of the press conference, organized by PABIC, was to raise awareness about the tremendous potential of biotechnology commercialization for the sustainable development of Pakistan’s economy. On the occasion, Prof Iqbal Choudhary also launched ISAAA Brief 53.

Prof.Iqbal Choudhary mentioned that global food insecurity was a leading problem in the developing world. According to the Global Report on Food Crises in 2017, around 108 million people in 48 food crisis-affected countries are still at risk or in severe acute food insecurity in 2016.

About 60 per cent of the hungry people are located in 19 countries facing conflict and climate change crisis situations, he said, adding that high risks of famine were recorded in Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen, where 20 million people were severely experiencing hunger.

He pointed out that strong political commitment to eliminate hunger was essential, but it was not enough. Hunger will only be defeated if countries translate their pledges into action, especially at national and local levels, he said, adding that peace is of course the key to ending these crises, but we cannot wait for peace to take action. It is extremely important to ensure that these people have the conditions to continue producing their own food, he observed.

Food experts for a long time believed that food production must increase by 70 per cent to feed the world’s growing population, he said.

This is really a good sign that Pakistan increased its irrigated cotton area by 3.4 per cent or 100,000 hectares from 2.9 million hectares to 3 million hectares, he said, adding that this is expected to increase cotton production by 14.04 million bales.

Prof IqbalChoudhary, giving a reference from ISAAA Brief 53, said that for the last eight years, an estimated 725,000 smallholder Pakistani farmers had been benefiting from the economic gains in using biotech cotton. It is provisionally estimated that the economic gains from biotech crops for Pakistan for the period 2010 to 2016 was US$4.8 billion and US$483 million for 2016 alone, he maintained.

 

Globally biotech crops contribution to the world economy can not be ignored at all, he observed, adding that a total of US$186.1 billion economic benefits were gained by countries planting biotech crops from 1996 to 2016. The highest gain was obtained by USA (US$ 80.3 billion), Argentina (US$23.7 billion), India (US$21.1 billion), Brazil (US$19.8 billion), China (US$19.6 billion), Canada (US$8 billion), and others (US$13.6 billion), he mentioned.