LAHORE: Agriculture Republic, an agriculture think tank, proposed in the upcoming budget a transformation of agricultural credit exclusively for subsistence farmers who make up about 80% of farm households in Pakistan.
“ As evidenced by the housing sector, if the process of acquiring agricultural loans is made simpler and more easily accessible, it will inspire small farmers to increase their yield and profitability, ” said platform co-founder Aamer. Hayat Bhandara in a letter to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi.
The platform developed some suggestions to be covered in the next national budget to boost the agricultural sector, including equipping farmers with the necessary extension services and crop protection tools that can handle the growing problems due to climate change, such as the incidence of the fall armyworm. The availability of crop protection products that respond to emerging pest risks depends on the timely review and approval of quality products with proven efficacy. Therefore, the government should consider including provisions for emergency approvals in the current regulatory framework, the letter added.
The technology of drones for the application of crop protection products will be a game-changer in the geographies of smallholder farmers. However, the lack of required institutional regulation and oversight has been a barrier to the adoption of this technology in Pakistan. The advantages of the technology are multiple, including reduced water use, operational efficiency, increased chemical efficiency, lower volume of pesticide use. In order to create an enabling environment for agricultural drone technology, the Ministry of National Food Security should take the lead in defining SOPs for spray drone operations and immediately facilitate research activities by securing NOCs for the importation and use of technology, he added.
Commenting on the federal government’s agriculture transformation plan, the letter says the plan sets an ambitious goal of 8 million acres for growing corn. However, a clear plan to achieve the same goal has not been disclosed. The adoption of biotechnology, to close the staggering crop yield gap (national average of 46 maunds / acre vs. 120 maunds per acre for progressive farmers), must be considered by the government. Over 50% of the world’s maize cereal production comes from 14 countries that have adopted this technology. With China set to market GM corn for cultivation in 2023, more than 70% of global production will benefit from this technology.
The global agricultural artificial intelligence market is expected to generate revenue of $ 8,379.5 million, growing from $ 852.2 million, and is expected to experience a CAGR of 24.8% during the period of forecast (2020-2030). To harness the potential of growing AI technologies in agricultural and agtech startups, cellular internet connectivity is the need of the day. Future agriculture will use sophisticated technologies such as robots, temperature and humidity sensors, aerial imagery and GPS technology that will allow farms to be more profitable, efficient, safer and more environmentally friendly, but cellular connectivity would be a prerequisite for the use of these innovations. Therefore, the government should encourage cellular network companies to increase their network in rural areas and provide suitable internet plans for small farmers so that they can enjoy the benefits of internet connectivity.
To improve the dairy sector, Agriculture Republic proposed in addition to semen, the government should also introduce embryo transfer technology to achieve rapid improvement in our milk yield and the overall quality of the dairy herd. In addition, the government should also introduce training programs for farmers on the nutritional needs of dairy animals, housing conditions and herd health.
Historically, it has been observed that when there is an oversupply of fresh vegetables, farmers were unable to obtain better prices and were forced to dump their produce into open fields or canals. Therefore, given the high yield of hybrid vegetable varieties and the short shelf life, district-level mini-processing factories should be established to convert the excess supply into by-products for local and market markets. export in order to avoid losses. The government should involve an agricultural extension force to educate small farmers on the economic benefits and modern cultivation methods of vegetable growing in order to derive maximum benefit from it. On the other hand, consumers should be aware of the nutritional benefits of vegetables to increase demand and improve their health well-being, the letter concludes.
Copyright recorder, 2021