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HYDERABAD: Researchers in the agriculture sector on Wednesday raised a question about how it could be possible for the world nations at the face of climate change and various other challenges to feed the population, which may reach 10 billion or more in 2050.

They were sharing learning at a seminar “Globalization and Agriculture in Pakistan, opportunities and challenges”, organized by Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) Tandojam.

Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmed Khan, former Vice Chancellor Agriculture University Faisalabad was a keynote speaker on the occasion, who highlighted the subjects related to agriculture like water, productivity, climate change, stagnant yields, post-harvest losses and market, social disparity, youth and gender and malnutrition and food security, which he suggested to link to the agriculture policy.

It was a part of frequent discourse and interaction with researchers and experts in various fields like agriculture, nutrition, climate change and emerging technology to transfer knowledge to the students and faculty members. Leading farmers, seed breeders and independent researchers also participated in the event and contributed their understanding.

Prof Dr Iqrar gave a talk on replacement of seeds mainly wheat, rice and other cereal crops, which impacted badly on crop cultivation cost, productivity and quality in terms of chemical tainted food consumption. He said globalization is a continuous part in marketing. Global communities look frightened about the provision of food to growing populations. Previously, he said the cold war had two major powers like the United States of America and Russia. But now China seems emerging as a capital block, dominating over the global market.

He gave a picture of agriculture development in Pakistan right from 1960 green revolution to now when despite being an agricultural country we are witnessing increasing malnutrition among children. Quoting research reports, he found malnutrition among 40 percent children. Around 70 percent of children do not eat breakfast. These are issues we are facing. Policy makers need to pay attention to it, he said. In fact traditionally the people are carnivores and need to have calories through meat. Poultry alone provides 70 percent meat to market. Besides dairy products people also get calories through taking vegetables, he said market manipulation is also a main problem in which consumers and producers suffer.

Prof Khan also talked on seed breeding varieties, status of certification and rate of germination. He said it was shocking that the farmers get seeds which sometimes do not germinate. There is no example like that in the world that the seeds do not germinate.

“We have to look into the issues like weather, water and status of soil fertility, which may cause lack of germination of seed varieties,” he said.

He realized that in the global scenario we can see Israel and China as technology powers in the agriculture sector. They have developed technology and are getting proper yield.

Dr Fateh Marri, Vice Chancellor Sindh Agriculture University in his concluding remarks expressed gratitude over the knowledge shared by the guest speaker at this forum, which he said will benefit the researchers in agriculture as well as farmers, who need more knowledge. Dr Marri said urbanization is taking place without any check, eating away fertile land, which used to produce food some year back. Like this, he said farmers are vulnerable due to climate change, volatile marketing and now emerging issue of poor seed germination.

He assured to motivate graduates and young researchers in the university to lead new studies on these subjects so we may measure the changes and its impacts on crop productivity. He said we have to see productivity enhancement and impacts of chemical input on soil, besides overall biodiversity.

He said wheat and cotton are facing multiple challenges in terms of emerging new varieties of seeds. Therefore, public and private sector institutes should strengthen coordination to produce authentic seeds so we can meet the needs of the farmers and avoid the issue of germination and improve productivity.

Like these subjects, he said malnutrition is also a big challenge. “Being Agriculture University, we are committed to initiate focus on the issues on malnutrition in the communities, mainly minor kids in rural areas”.

Among a large number of graduates, young researchers and faculty members, Noor Muhammad Baloch, Director General Agriculture Research Sindh and Syed Nadeem Shah Jamot, representative of Sindh Abadgar Board were also available in the programme.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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