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Speakers at a workshop on 'Sustainable Agriculture' stressed the need for adoption of innovative latest agricultural technology coupled with implementation of good agricultural practices to tackle the issue of reducing available farmland per person per hectare, threats posed by the climate change and feeding the increasing mouths.

As compared to 1950, global population will be 300 percent in 2020, while arable land in this period will increase only by 15 percent thus bringing down the farmland availability by 60 percent per person per hectare.

The workshop was organized by the CropLife Pakistan Association in collaboration with the Agriculture Journalists Association (AJA) with the aim to highlight the importance sustainable agriculture in the face of numerous challenges to the national food security.

Speakers observed that the agriculture is the largest industry on the planet employing over one billion people. They said sustainable agriculture can promote empowered communities and building rural economies, grow a food system that achieves Food security, sustaining the Earth's systems and maintain ecosystem diversity.

Dr Muhammad Afzal, Executive Director CropLife Pakistan, explained that growing population, climate change, scarcity of water and changing lifestyles continue to pose challenges to the national food security, emphasizing the need to promote sustainable means to grow food and embrace technological innovations that enable the same.

"This workshop for media professionals is part of CropLife Pakistan's broader effort to create awareness and understanding of agriculture technologies. We hope this interaction provides the participants a fresh perspective and adds to their knowledge", he added.

Subsequent speakers also highlighted the importance of an enabling business environment that encourages investments in innovative technologies, with specific focus on enhancing crop productivity while reducing impact on the environment.

Sustainable agricultural practices involve the judicious use of water resources, minimizing soil erosion, reducing fuel consumption and optimizing land utilization.

While providing an overview of sustainable agriculture technologies, Dr Muhammad Afzal explained at length the benefits of biotechnology in relation to promoting sustainable agriculture. "Biotechnology allows farmers to produce more using fewer resources; it has the potential to reshape productivity in Pakistan by addressing both climate change and food security challenges," he further reiterated.

Dr Afzal also pointed out that the Government of Pakistan has had a clear policy on biotechnology for the past three decades and has invested heavily towards research and development of this technology, emphasizing that regulatory decision must be consistent with this policy to build confidence of the plant science industry.

"Pakistan has 45 biotech institutions, over 500 PhDs scientists and numerous ongoing projects across various food and non-food crops. Biotechnology also features prominently as a priority area in all Government policy documents, including the Vision 2025 and the National Food Security Policy 2018," explained Dr Afzal.

He further added, "It is imperative that policymakers provide a stable regulatory and legal framework to facilitate investment and technology transfer and ensure that regulatory decisions are guided by the overarching policy framework and scientific evidence."

By combining sustainable agricultural practices with innovative agricultural technologies, Pakistan, with its ever-increasing population, can combat the adverse effects of climate change and ensure food security for generations to come.

Talking about the adverse effects of current agricultural practices, Muhammad Asim Lead Biotechnology & Seed CropLife said that it is causing loss of biodiversity, not able to face the challenge of unpredictable weather caused by global climate change, degradation of land resources 2 billion hectares of land worldwide are seriously degraded, soil pollution due to improper use of fertilizer and pesticides, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

He also threw light on the success of Hybrid corn in Pakistan and production jump achieved by the growers by adopting the new seed etc.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019