Investment in agriculture research must to ensure food security: Dr. Afzal

ISLAMABAD: Investment in the agriculture research is the key element to ensure food security through increasing agriculture yield to cater the increasing number of population in the county, said Chairman of Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC)  Dr. Muhammad Afzal said on Tuesday “Food security in the country depends upon on how much the government spends on the agriculture research,” Dr. Muhammad Afzal told APP.He was of the view that owing to various factors, Pakistan has nooption but to increase per acre yield adding that boosting agriculture production was possible only through research and utilization of modern technologies.“Path to our agriculture progress is availability of new technology and introduction of technology by the farmers,” he added.He said that PARC was simultaneously focussing on developing new technologies and making the farmers introducing these technologies to the farmers in the field for better outputs.He said that over years, the PARC has succeed in enhancing the overall crop production in the country. Citing the example of wheat production, he said that the yield of wheat crop has been enhanced from just 4 million tons in early sixties to 23 million tons in 2009.
He said that there was a lot of talent as well as capacity to help boost agriculture but the council needs long term investments to carry forward the research projects.“Investment in agriculture and its research is a good investment by the government which matters for the benefit of the country”, he remarked.Dr.Afzal said that there was some shortage of funds to carry forward research projects, however, maintained that “we have no option but to spend on research if we are serious about ensuring food security in the country”.He was of the view that investment in research would not produce results overnight rather it would have long-term effects adding that PARC would need funds for its research project to make the future of agriculture better.He said that PARC has been testing Xi-Chuan, wheat seed imported from China to see its output in the field adding that if it produces 5-7 percent better yield, the variety would be developed and provided to farmers for better crop production.

He stressed the need for coordinated efforts among the federal and provincial research institutions including universities and national agriculture research system for enhancing yield in the country.He observed that agriculture land is shrinking due to over population and people are using the land for construction of their residences.Dr.Afzal said that in Pakistan for food security wheat is an important commodity and steps are being taken to enhance its per acre yield through better research and introducing its new seed varieties.He added that when the Rust disease attacked on wheat some year ago, the PARC scientists have developed “Rust resistant” wheat seed which can be sown anywhere in the country.The PARC Chairman said that his organization has developed five seed varaties, including “Tijaban”, which was introduced for Quetta area.He also stressed the need for efficient utilization of water resources and to reduce its wastage by levelling of the land Dr.Muhammad Afzal disclosed that the government is likely to introduce “center pivot irrigation” system this month at a cost of Rs.16 billion across the country.The federal and provincial governments would be partners in this project and to be launched across the country in which the farmers would be given subsidy aiming at to introduce high efficiency irrigation system and to improve the agricultural productivity by facilitating the farmers – APP