Steps proposed to achieve 5% annual agri-growth

Agricultural body hopes new govt will address challenges in budget

Our Correspondent February 16, 2024


Pakistan needs a consistent annual growth of around 5% in the agriculture sector to feed its population and there are high hopes that the incoming government will tackle the challenges being faced by farmers in the federal budget, said FPCCI Central Standing Committee on Agriculture Convener Ahmad Jawad.

Talking to media on Thursday, Jawad stressed that to meet the challenges of achieving national food security and economic prosperity, a two-pronged approach was required. This included vertical growth by increasing per-acre yield of crops and horizontal growth by bringing more area under cultivation through corporate farming.

“Pakistan has the potential to plant crops over 22 million acres by combining both vertical and horizontal approaches,” he said.

At present, the per-acre yield in the country is far less than the global average due to limited access to modern machinery and digital support services for farmers.

“In this regard, artificial intelligence (AI) can revolutionise and revitalise the agriculture sector, especially horticulture, while addressing the challenges of climate change, adapting to crop patterns and attracting talent,” he added.

Read Alvi calls for agricultural tech to combat climate change

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FPCCI) agricultural committee chief underscored the urgency of embracing AI as the most significant step in the agriculture sector, which should also feature in the Green Pakistan Initiative.

“Our policymakers often spend excessive time in meetings, discussions and visualisations, which delays the adoption of pragmatic approaches.”

Jawad pointed out that both developed and developing countries were moving towards digital revolution, recognising data as today’s equivalent of gold.

“AI can help analyse historical data, weather trends and storage conditions to predict optimal harvest times and storage duration for crops.”

The FPCCI believes that instead of viewing the agriculture sector as simply a provider of food for the poor, Pakistan must see it as an engine of economic growth for the next few decades. “But this can only be achieved if we are able to shun some of the most common and ill-advised perceptions about the sector,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2024.

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