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‘Agritech’ edition: From the Editor

Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy. It contributes as much as 20 percent to the overall GDP of Pakistan. The agriculture sector provides employment to 42.3 percent of the country’s labor force. In Punjab, the food basket of Pakistan, 43.5 percent of the population is attached to this sector. Agriculture provides 65 percent of total exports of Pakistan, out of which cotton and cotton-based products contribute 73.2 percent.

Pakistan is the number 4 producer of cotton in the world. It is also one of the leading producers of wheat, rice, and sugarcane, milk, mango, citrus, and dates.

However, there was a substantial decline in cotton yields during the year 2015-16. This year, GDP growth targets were significantly set back by the poor cotton crop. In his article Saeed A. Baloch takes up this issue in detail and shares the accounts of farmers, growers, experts, and policy makers. Whether this cotton crop failure was because of weather conditions or low quality of Bt seeds, the need and importance of technology in agriculture has rightly been highlighted. It is clear that we need to find a sustainable solution, not just for cotton but the entire agriculture sector. We need to work on weather-tolerant and pesticide-tolerant crops to achieve higher yields.

Dr. Anjum Ali, Director General Punjab Agriculture Department (Extension) in Q+A with Jawad Ali shares hands-on experience with the agriculture sector in Punjab in a historical perspective through a comparison with Indian Punjab. Sharing latest perspective, he also highlights Punjab government’s efforts to economize the use of fertilizer and pesticides with the help of drone technology. The conversation also underscores the government’s initiative to promote hydroponics and building soil sampling record to advice farmers on soil health and agro management in Pakistan.

The article by Haroon Akram Gill focuses on the impact on agriculture due to climate change and related threats such as water-stressed and heat-stressed conditions. The article quotes several experts on potential strategies to counter the negative impact of climate change on crop production and food security.

Zahid Baig’s article is full of amazing statistics on Pakistan’s agriculture sector. It also highlights plight of the farmers and the much needed role of technology. This article especially focuses on the ever-increasing cost of agriculture production in Pakistan. Technology can play a fundamental role in reducing the cost of production and making Pakistan’s agriculture sector internationally competitive.

Ahmad Raza’s article explains the landscape of the seed industry in Pakistan and highlights the challenges in seed technology and research in Pakistan.

Happy reading!

Dr. Umar Saif

Umar Saif tweets @umarsaif

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