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Science and Technology Based Agriculture Vision of Pakistan and Prospects of Growth

Ahmad, Munir and Iqbal, Muhammad (2004): Science and Technology Based Agriculture Vision of Pakistan and Prospects of Growth.

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The higher growth rate for agriculture sector than performed previously is imperative for a rapid economic growth of the economy, macroeconomic stability, employment generation, and reduction in rural poverty. The leading factors contributing towards agricultural growth in the past are less likely to play the same role in development of the sector in future. The irrigation water would be the most limiting factor in the coming years. Thus, there is need to maximize output per drop of water through adopting water conserving technologies, enhancing irrigation efficiency, and growing less water requiring crops. Additional reservoirs need to be built to store water excess of what is required to regularly flow in the sea for deltaic conservation. Expansion of cultivated area has already slowed down. Culturable waste (9 million hectares) may offer good opportunity, while improvement of 1.8 million hectares of cultivated saline/sodic lands being in canal commands may make even a cheaper potential source. Pakistan has to rely more heavily on productivity enhancement through technological change and improvement of technical efficiency for the desired rapid agricultural growth in future. Though conventional breeding needs to be continued in future, it no longer would offer any significant breakthroughs in the yield potentials and in providing solution to the newly emerging complex problems like pests, diseases, and drought stress. Therefore, the application of recent advances in the field of agricultural biotechnology is crucial to increase productivity, improve nutritional quality, broaden crop tolerance against biotic and abiotic stresses, and enhance crop resistance against pests and diseases. The tools of modern biotechnology are more precise and involve shorter time for development of new strains of improved crop and livestock. It is envisaged that the next breakthrough in agricultural productivity would be due to recent developments in plant molecular biology, genetic engineering, and rapid advancement in genomics . The national agricultural research system (NARS) is poorly funded, ill equipped, weakly linked with international and national stakeholders, thinly staffed with mostly low capacity and unmotivated scientific manpower, lack autonomy, and generally mismanaged. It cannot deliver up to the future expectations without funding at a higher level, essential human resource development, provision of modern laboratories and good library facilities, creation of a nice working environment, and offering the scientists good career opportunities and financial incentives.

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