Pakistan, being the sixth most populous country in the world, is faced with complex problems, including food insecurity and a large yield gap between the rich and poor farmers. This was stated by Dr Anwar Nasim, Secretary General at Pakistan Academy of Sciences, in press briefing that was organised by Pakistan Bio Technology Information Centre, here on Thursday.
He said the demographic pressures due to fast growing population, urbanisation, as well as water and energy crises are the other major impediments to national development. “By year 2050, Pakistan will have a population of 250 million. Despite the fact that Pakistan is among three Muslim countries, out of 57 nations, which have achieved commercialisation of biotech crops, food inflation is still among the highest in Pakistan,” he said.
Dr Nasim said Pakistan is among the largest producers of cotton, maize, rice, citrus, etc. However, the yield and quality of agriculture produced is not at par with the world standards. “Therefore, it is imperative to adopt science based agriculture at the national level in order to meet the constantly growing food, fiber and fodder demands in Pakistan,” he said.
Dr Kauser Abdulla Malik, Professor of Biotechnology at Forman Christian College, said the modern biotechnology being one of the important developments of the present era has immense potential for improving agricultural productivity. “For its use on scientific and sustainable basis, we need coherent policies and clear implementation strategy to adapt agri-biotech, focusing on crops which require less water, less fertilisers and less pesticide and give more yields to feed the growing population as well as to provide raw material for high value exports,” he said.
Dr Malik said that for the prompt application of agriculture biotechnology, smooth functioning of the regulatory system at the national level, capable of carrying out science based and time bound evaluation, is absolutely essential. He said that it is also important that leading biotech scientists are made part of the regulatory structure. Pakistan had prepared its bio-safety Guidelines and rules to ensure smooth development and application of biotechnology in agriculture.