ISLAMABAD: Participants of a forum discussion on Friday called for spending at least one per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on research on agriculture which they said is backbone of any economy.
They also laid stress on use of modern technology to efficiently water crops and to increase per acre yield while also protecting agricultural lands from turning into housing societies by building high-rises.
The forum, organised by the Express Media Group, was attended by Minister for Food Security Mehboob Sultan, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce former president Amir Waheed Sheikh, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce’s Khursheed Birlas and agricultural expert Dr Umar Farooq.
Speaking on the occasion, Mehboob Sultan said agriculture is the backbone of every economy and all industries are associated with it. “The present government has a clear-cut policy for agriculture and revolutionary steps are being taken,” he said.
Dr Umar Farooq said agriculture sector in Pakistan is facing shortage of water.
“We should encourage farmers to adopt various water saving techniques. The world spends 3 per cent of their GDP on agricultural research and development while we spend only 0.1 per cent on it against India’s 0.37 per cent. We should raise our allocation to 1 per cent at least.”
The expert said value addition in the agricultural products can increase income of the farmer.
Amir Waheed Sheikh said the rural population depends on crops and livestock. “We need to balance our production so that we get every kind of crop. The government should pay attention to seed development. Value addition to milk can result in many products that can benefit the farmer,” he said.
Khursheed Birlas said agricultural development is not possible without linking it with the prosperity of the farmer. Farmers feel compelled to sell their lands to housing schemes because it is more profitable.
He said the agriculture policy should increase profit of farmer.
“We need joint ventures in agriculture. We should include agricultural development projects in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. We need to make agricultural sector an export-based sector which will increase the income of farmers as well as increase the exports,” he said.