LAHORE - Both local and foreign scientists fear that the traditional farming methods could further hamper Pakistan’s agriculture productivity and create a food security crisis in Pakistan in the coming years.

In an interaction with relevant government ministries and journalists, they emphasised the need to introduce latest technology in the agriculture sector to fulfil food requirements of growing population.

“Government looks serious in improving economic outlook, food security and livelihood of its farmers by approving agriculture technology that will enable production of more crops by using fewer resources and minimizing impact to the environment. We held meetings with ministries of national food security and research and climate change and discussed the challenges and opportunities in Pakistan’s agriculture,” said Dr Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director CropLife Asia, and Ms Sonny Tabbaba, Director Biotechnology Affairs, while talking to the journalists at a local hotel.

They said it was a welcoming sign that the government allowed farmers to choose genetically-enhanced corn (genetically modified/biotech) seeds, which could help them produce better crops and reduce overall impact on environment.

“Population continues to grow in Asia and around the world. We look to our farmers to produce more food with less arable land and water and less impact on environment,” said Dr Tan, adding it would not be possible for Pakistan to meet the food demand of fast growing population if its farmers continue to use traditional methods of farming. “Farmers must abandon old methods to protect their own and country’s future,” he emphasised.

“Unfortunately, around 70 to 80 per cents of Pakistan’s farmers use outdated seeds, cultivation methods and are unaware of modern technology being used by farmers of India, China, Philippines and other nations,” he said.

“The cultivation land is shrinking in Pakistan and small farmers are abandoning their farms and shifting to the cities in search of other jobs as traditional methods of farming, which result in low agri productivity, have changed their minds to adopt other professions,” he said.

Dr Muhmmad Afzal of CropLife Pakistan Executive Director said the government and media should join hands for creating awareness among the farmers for use of modern technology to secure the future of coming generation. “We should continue to use all tools at our disposal, including biotechnology, to improve Pakistan’s farmers’ lives and to ensure we meet the expectations of producing quality food and fiber in a safe and sustainable way,” he said.

Data provided by CropLife showed that the area under biotech crops cultivation across Asia was: 11.6 million hectares in India, 3.7 in China and 2.9 million hectares in Pakistan. New biotech crops cultivating countries in the region are Bangladesh and Vietnam, which approved biotech corn.

Experts say the authorities in Pakistan should promite modern trends in farming to improve living standards of the farmers and improve agriculture productivity.