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LAHORE: Farmers in lower Sindh have achieved a 26% average increase in plant population and 11 to 16% average yield increase through mechanisation. This was disclosed by the state of the agriculture industry report launched by the Pakistan Business Council recently.

According to details, a special project in collaboration with the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) is going on since December 2018 to develop and implement a multi-year programme for increasing Pakistan’s rice exports.

The aim of the project “Khushhaal Kissan” is to improve farm productivity and cut post-harvest losses (15-20%) and significantly increase rice exports over the next few years.

Since Pakistani farmers cannot afford all machines as mechanisation requires service providers, therefore, leading rice exporters Garibsons, Meskay, Conwill, MM Commodities, RBI and Jaffer Brothers have already invested in mechanisation companies namely Khushhaal Kissan and MFT.

Similarly, leading machine manufacturers like Kubota from Japan, Yanmar, Klaas, and Fuerdai from China, TYM from South Korea, and World from China have given agencies in Pakistan.

The reason is that Pakistan’s farmers operating in traditional scenario use seeds saved from last years while in the mechanical scenarios, they are to use proper seeds, which gives them up to a 50% yield increase.

Moreover, farmers have around 55,000 plants per acre in traditional nursery-raising through manual transplantation while the plant population increases to 100,000 per acre by dint of nursery-raising in trays and mechanical transplantation.

Thus, in harvesting, farmers get a 50% reduction in harvesting losses by using mechanical means against traditional harvesting while instead of traditional sun-drying of paddy and paddy storage, they get a mechanized system.

Besides, Pakistan’s farmers face increasing climate risks such as flood or drought excessive/untimely rain, heatwave, windstorm, hail, and frost as well as biological risks that include pest/insect attacks, and viral/bacterial attacks locusts.

The increases in variability of monsoon and winter rains are expected to cause increased variability and uncertainty in river flows.

It is to be noted that from 1980 to 2007 heatwave days per year increased by 31 days while rainfall in the arid plains/coastal areas decreased by 10 to 15%.

Farmers have been reporting changes in weather patterns for years and they have meager defences against key pests/insects (cotton) as many viruses are not well-identified.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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