ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan said that modern crop forecasting system has been installed at Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) to increase accuracy and decrease costs of data collection and crop yields each year.
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN and the US Department of Agriculture has helped install the system. The crop reporting services of Punjab and Sindh, supported by USDA and FAO, has also been launched at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad and Sindh Agriculture University at Tando Jam, to improve quality of agricultural statistics using geospatial information.
The Federal Minister has said Pakistan’s economy is heavily dependent on the agriculture sector and this sector feeds and employs Pakistan’s people, supplies raw material for the country’s industry and provides a source for most of our country’s exports. To put it in numbers, the agriculture sector employs 44 percent of Pakistan’s labour force, contributes 21 percent of the GDP, and is responsible for about 65 percent of the total exports.
Sikandar Bosan has stated that despite its significant role, the agriculture sector does not function at its full potential. “Compared to the developed and many developing countries with similar resource base, the productivity of Pakistan’s agriculture sector today is low.
With current levels of productivity, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the agriculture sector to feed the country’s populations well as to compete in the world markets,” he added. Bosan has said that lack of resources, poor investment in inputs due to the lack of credit availability, old management techniques and the absence of modern technology are some of the key issues that need to be addressed to increase the productivity and growth of the sector.
With US funding, FAO provided the software and hardware for the crops monitoring system and trained staff at SUPARCO, as well as at Crop Reporting Services of Punjab and Sindh to support the adoption of satellite imagery data and for more accurate forecasting of crop yields. Dr Iftikhar Ahmad Chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, Dr Nadeem Amjad, David William agriculture Counselor US Embassy-Pakistan, Dr Otto Gonzalez of USDA, Imran Iqbal from SUPARCO and other speakers highlighted various aspects of this system.
Specialists from FAO headquarters Rome as well as University of Maryland also attended the event.