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                    Rewilding: Can it save our wildlife and temper climate change?                     

By Jocelyn Timperley, Freelance climate journo from Scotland living in Costa Rica (Republished:Feb. 12, 2021)

We’ve pushed nature to the brink, but it may be capable of repairing the damage - provided we step aside and let it go back to doing what it does best. Dotted through the Scottish Highlands there remain fragments of Caledonian pine woodland whose origins can be traced back to the temperate rainforest that covered much of the country after the last ice age. Often surrounded by Scots pine plantations and land overgrazed by deer, they’re a last refuge for many threatened species. Abernethy National Nature Reserve includes one of the largest remnants of this ancient woodland. Decades of work by RSPB Scotland and others is restoring and expanding it. The project, which now has a 200-year plan, is based on carefully encouraging natural processes to flourish, making it perhaps Britain’s most successful example of the ‘rewilding’ concept so far.

“With the [ancient] pine wood expanding, that’s allowing other species to expand their range and spread as well,” says Tors Hamilton from Cairngorms Connect, a large-scale ‘habitat restoration’ partnership between Abernethy and neighbouring land managers. “There’s been a lot of work and research going on – and it’s still continuing today – looking at how we enable those natural processes to expand and continue.” With this focus on restoring natural processes, such as allowing trees to seed and spread themselves, the Abernethy reserve encompasses many of the aims of the rewilding movement. At the same time, Abernethy’s hesitancy to call itself a rewilding project gives an inkling of the underlying tensions that often surround this approach to regenerating wilderness.

What is rewilding?

In the years since the term ‘rewilding’ was first coined by US environmentalist Dave Foreman in the early 1990s, people have struggled to agree on what it means. When it began the movement focused on the ‘three Cs’. “Core protected areas (kind of no-go zones for people), then large carnivores and the connectivity between those habitats,” says Dr Andrea Perino from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. The aim of rewilding was to create self-sustaining ecosystems that could return to pre-human levels of biodiversity, but the idea evolved as it spread. In 2015, environmental historian Prof Dolly Jørgensen found six uses of the word, from ‘productive land abandonment’ to ‘releasing captive-bred animals into the wild’.

In Britain, writer and environmentalist George Monbiot helped to popularise the term with his 2013 book Feral, which advocated for allowing nature to re-establish itself and the reintroduction of large wild animals, such as lynx, beavers and wolves, to Britain. More recently, Sir David Attenborough adopted the term in the documentary A Life On Our Planet, his much-lauded ‘witness statement’ for the environment. “So what do we do?” he asked, after an hour journeying through the enormous biodiversity loss the world has experienced during his 94 years. “To restore stability to our planet we must restore its biodiversity, the very thing that we’ve removed… We must rewild the world.”

In their 2019 paper on rewilding, Perino and her colleagues outlined a framework for how they thought it could be implemented in a way that also considers ongoing human interaction. “We started to try and find the different components that need to be there to help an ecosystem to be resilient,” she says. The researchers landed on three key components that allow ecosystem functions to regenerate and sustain themselves. The first, says Perino, is to have enough species at different levels of the food chain, from predators to decomposers, and enough ‘redundancy’ so that several species are available to play similar roles.

Secondly, connections between ecosystems are also needed, she says, so species can move between them.

Finally, allowing natural disturbances, such as floods or fires, to occur increases the resilience of wildlife and helps to ensure one species doesn’t dominate. Rebecca Wrigley is the chief executive of Rewilding Britain, a charity formed in 2015 following the success of Monbiot’s book. For her, rewilding means a large-scale restoration of ecosystems that reinstates natural processes to the point where nature can take care of itself, meaning everything from ensuring rivers are free-flowing to restoring “natural levels” of herbivores and predators.

Bringing back the animals

The reintroduction of large animals is what most often leads to controversy around rewilding projects, as many focus on predators, such as wolves and lynx. This can generate strong opinions from all quarters and tensions with farmers, who can see these reintroductions as both affront to their heritage and a threat to their livelihoods. This is one reason why Cairngorm Connect prefers to use the term ‘habitat restoration’ to describe what’s being done in the Abernethy National Nature Reserve, even while others celebrate it as a successful example of rewilding. “Within rewilding and a lot of rewilding projects worldwide, the reintroduction of apex predators in particular is often quite high on the agenda. [But] isn’t within our plans at the moment,” says Hamilton.

Rewilding projects focus on reintroducing wolves, lynx and other predatory animals because they’re often ‘keystone species’ that occupy an essential role in the natural ecosystem. Apex predators, such as lynx, keep the numbers of herbivores, such as deer, down, which triggers a ‘trophic cascade’ that indirectly benefits a wide variety of other plants and animals. In practice, in Britain at least, rewilding projects have so far tended to focus on returning herbivores, such as beavers and more recently bison, to the landscape, rather than predators. But groups such as the Lynx UK Trust are pushing to release Eurasian lynx, following reintroductions in Germany, France and Switzerland. “There’s no point [introducing predators] against public opinion because they’ll just end up getting shot,” says Wrigley. “But I think public opinion is changing.”

The connectedness of the European mainland means reintroductions by humans are not always necessary for predators to return to an area, though. “For Europe’s mainland, carnivores are just coming,” says Frans Schepers from Rewilding Europe, noting the recent return of wolves to the Netherlands. “If you provide the safety and the habitat, species will come – most of that happens on its own.” In France, wolf populations have grown rapidly since they returned from Italy in 1992, with sheep and goat farmers saying their herds are suffering rising attacks. “Of course, it can be controversial because people are just not prepared for it,” says Schepers.

But there are other ways to compensate for a lack of apex predators, although it’s not the hands-off approach favoured by rewilding. In Abernethy, for example, an essential part of the restoration project has been establishing a management plan to address the high numbers of deer that were preventing young tree seedlings coming up. The deer are now culled and sold for venison, both providing jobs and bringing in revenue for the project, says Hamilton.

Rewild for the climate

Rewilding is also increasingly receiving attention for its potential to help mitigate climate change. Research has shown that degraded landscapes that have been restored have huge potential for sequestering carbon and can play a part in protecting people from the impacts of a changing climate. Planted – or rewilded – trees, for example, absorb and store carbon as they grow, and can also reduce the risk of flooding. Scientists in Brazil recently found that restoring the most promising 15 per cent of ecosystems, including former forests, degraded grasslands and wetlands, could sequester 30 per cent of all CO2 released since the Industrial Revolution, and avoid 60 per cent of expected extinctions. Restoring tropical forests tended to bring the most carbon benefits, the researchers found.

Another paper found that simply stopping disturbances (by getting rid of grazing cows, for example) and letting pastures regrow naturally as forests could absorb the equivalent of a quarter of global fossil fuel emissions per year up to 2050, while maintaining current levels of food production. A key message was the huge differences in how much carbon could be captured. “The highest [amounts] are in the places that you’d expect, so the tropics are much higher than the more temperate forests,” says lead author Dr Susan Cook-Patton, from The Nature Conservancy. “But what’s really cool is the variation at smaller scales. It’s really good for helping to find those locations with the greatest potential carbon on a per-hectare basis.”

In the UK, for example, carbon absorption rates could more than double depending on the location. “Our map can help people determine whether there are locations that will optimise biodiversity benefits and carbon benefits at the same time,” says Cook-Patton. Research like this could be useful as countries attempt to balance different priorities for land use. But even small areas of rewilded land – such as an untouched garden – can add up to make a big difference climate- and biodiversity-wise. A single square metre of grassland can contain over 40 plant species, compared to the one or two found on garden lawns, leading to a cascade of benefits for insects and other animals.

Reducing fertiliser and herbicide use in your garden and leaving even small areas to grow naturally (or mowing less often) can do wonders for local wildlife, such as hedgehogs and birds. Meanwhile across Britain, stretches of roadside are being turned over to wildflowers under different, more effective, management approaches than the usual 12 or so verge-cuttings per year. A larger change in animal fauna around the world could also make a difference for the climate. Replacing the huge numbers of methane-emitting cattle globally with lower-emitting large herbivores, such as horses and rhino, would significantly reduce overall methane emissions, according to a 2018 scientific review. And rewilding the world’s tropical forests with large, fruit-eating mammals, such as elephants and American tapirs, could have a greater impact on the climate than tree-planting schemes, it said, because these animals are crucial to the seed dispersal of hardwood tree species.

Planting vs rewilding

Whether on a large or small scale, rewilding focuses on how to restore ecosystems, rather than individual species. Advocates argue its low-cost, widespread benefits are often a better bet than concentrating on a single species or meeting fixed tree-planting targets. In the UK and elsewhere tree-planting has captured the public imagination. The UK government’s target to plant 30,000 new hectares of trees per year is a key part of its climate strategy and has public support. A global initiative to plant one trillion trees within the decade, launched at the World Economic Forum in January 2020, is another of a whole host of tree-planting initiatives.

There’s certainly a place for tree-planting where natural forest regeneration is unlikely to work, such as in urban parks or areas far from natural seed sources. “If you have really degraded conditions, or no seed sources, you’re not going to get a forest coming back,” explains Cook-Patton. “And you’d need to actively plant at that point.” But many argue tree-planting isn’t always the best approach. For one thing, research has shown that natural forest regrowth tends to result in better biodiversity outcomes. Cook-Patton says that’s because people often plant just a handful of tree species, representing only a fraction of what a forest would have previously contained. “The more tree species you have, usually the more animal species you can support,” she says.

Other research has found commercial tree plantations are much poorer at storing carbon than natural forests. Scientists are also concerned that a fixation on tree-planting could result in non-native trees being planted on savannahs or grassland, causing disruption for local species. There’s also the cost of planting trees compared to letting nature to do the job. “We like to think that we need to plant trees, but nature has been planting trees forever, all on its own,” says Cook-Patton. Supporters of rewilding say regenerated land can also be used to generate income. But this relates to what we, as a society, choose to value. Some governments are already changing how they subsidise land, following the example set by countries such as Costa Rica, which has been paying landowners to protect their forests for decades.

In Britain, the departure from the EU has opened up a space to rethink how to spend the £3bn a year in UK agricultural subsidies previously distributed by the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). The UK government has proposed a ‘public money for public goods’ policy, with funds rewarding carbon sequestration, air and water quality, and improved access to the countryside. “If that’s implemented as it’s proposed we think that could be a great incentive for change,” says Wrigley. Meanwhile, some landowners are experimenting with how to generate income from private rewilding schemes, such as the 1,416-hectare (3,500-acre) Knepp Estate in West Sussex. Previously an arable and dairy farm, it was turned over to wildlife in 2001.

Fences were removed, allowing the estate’s cattle and pigs to roam freely, and deer and Exmoor ponies (acting as proxies for the extinct wild horse) were introduced to cause helpful natural disturbance through their grazing and trampling. Knepp Estate’s owners, Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree, now earn money by running a glamping site and ecotourism business, as well as selling animal products made from the free-roaming livestock. An important part of rewilding that has changed, at least for some, from the initial concept is the inclusion of people. A criticism often levelled at rewilding is that it focuses on returning to landscapes untouched by people and so risks disempowering local communities.

But Wrigley argues rewilding must include people. “It’s not to take people out of the landscape and forbid them from touching or entering it,” she says, pointing to how low-impact agroforestry and agriculture can be compatible with rewilding. “There’s a spectrum of restoring those natural processes and we see some forms of landscapes that are productive as part of that.” To its advocates, rewilding goes further than traditional conservation to recognise the vast scale of the ecological disaster the world is now facing. It aims to bring back nature as much and as fast as possible. But it’s also about trusting nature, according to Schepers. “We should stop treating nature as a sick child,” he says. “Nature is our ally.”

Over 62 FMCs established for 9 agriculture business & value chain

SLAMABAD, Feb 10 (APP,LPP): Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the Provincial Government of Balochistan have established 62 Farmers Marketing Collectives (FMCs) for 9 different agriculture business and value chain in order to promote the agriculture and livestock sectors in most underdeveloped districts of the province. The initiative was aiming at to improve living standers of most vulnerable farm families of under privileged districts of the province through enhancing livelihood opportunists and addressing malnutrition issues particularly in women and children by introducing interventions in agriculture and livestock value added sectors.

The interventions were made under Australia Balochistan Agribusiness Program (AusABBA) Phase-II, initiated from 2017 to 2020 which had benefited 6,260 households comprising on 56,245 men and women in 09 different agri-businesses including onion production and processing, dates, grape production and processing. They were also provided training for the developments of fruit plant nurseries, vegetable seedlings, poultry and wool production and processing. The program was started between 2012 to 2020, received financial assistance from the Australian government and helped improved the household incomes for more than 23,000 households in the south-west Balochistan.

Besides The program also helped to establish for 21 mutual marketing organizations (MMOs), which were registered with the agriculture cooperatives department as cooperatives and legal entities. In order to address the malnutrition issues in women and children as well as economically empowering the women form these districts, about 5,440 female farmers were trained for integrated household food system, besides providing inputs and training to 837 beneficiaries on wool production and processing.

In order to exploit backyard poultry farming potential of the province, 88 household consisting over 792 females were provided with poultry chicks, poultry management trainings and others, besides providing inputs and training to 139 women in 15 households for vegetable seedlings production. FAO under the program had also responded to the increased levels of food insecurity in Balochistan due to Covid-19 by initiating a household food production and experimental nutrition education intervention through which families that have pregnant or lactating mothers are trained under the Integrated Household Food Systems.  

February, March best for grafting of seedless kinnow

FAISALABAD, Feb 2, 2021(LPP): February and March months are the most suitable time for grafting of seedless kinnow plants and the farmers should adopt this cheap and best way to increase quality of plants in their orchards. A spokesman for the Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (AARI) said on Sunday that seedless kinnow is in high demand at international markets. Therefore, the gardeners should concentrate to grow maximum plants of seedless kinnows in their orchards so that this fruit could play a pivotal role in fetching precious foreign exchange for the country.

He said that Pakistan is earning Rs.180 million dollars from the export of citrus fruits per annum and Punjab is contributing 90% in this export. However, there is a wide scope to further increase this export to manifolds as seedless kinnow is in high demand at global markets. He said that AARI scientists have already developed variety of seedless kinnow and now the farmers should plant this tree at maximum space in their farms. He said that the farmers should take media (Qalm) from AARI nursery and use grafting technique for growing maximum seedless kinnow trees.

He said that AARI scientists have introduced seedless Kinnow variety after testing its fruits, productivity and natural mutation for many years while AARI variety has 4 to 6 seed per fruit. He said that many private nurseries are also selling seedless citrus fruit saplings but most of them are cheating the farmers. Therefore, the farmers should prepare seedless Kinnow plants at their own nurseries by using media of AARI nursery.

The private nursery owners and plant sellers are continuing the old method, regardless of any new research or laws and regulations, and in this way they are producing and selling substandard varieties of citrus fruits. The plants grown in these nurseries are causing the spread of many diseases and other basic defects which are very difficult to correct when the plant is young in the garden. It is very important for the gardeners to follow the scientific method to grow health and quality fruit trees.

He said that light Mera land is a good choice for nursery and a place for nursery cultivation should be selected where there is minimal risk of diseases and insects. The distance from the nursery site to other crops, roads and passages must be at least 15 meters. The land for the nursery site should be such that there is better arrangement for drainage. The farmers should never choose a place where water collects and causes pollution. They should take extreme care in selection of seedless kainow grafted timber as it has a very limited number of plants in very few places across the Punjab.

For proper guidance and assistance, gardeners and nursery owners should contact the Agricultural Scientists of Citrus Research Institute Sargodha and Ayub Agricultural Research Institute Faisalabad, he added. He said that the age of plant for taking media should be not more than 7 to 8 years and it should also have excellent characteristics including huge resistance against diseases. The quality of grafting branch and root stock should be equal to 15 to 20 cm in length with 3 to 4 eyes or buds. Similarly, thickness of the root stock must be 10 to 15 mm. The share sign and the stock must be same and the length of root stock must be 3 to 4 feet.

For nursery cultivation, seed bed structure should be 4 feet wide, 6 feet long and 15 cm above ground level, 15 cm row to row spacing and 10 mm seed depth. After transplanting to the nursery, it is important to keep a distance of 20 to 25 cm between plants and 20 to 30 cm between rows. The farmers should also leave a distance of 2 feet after each of the four rows and then cultivate the next four rows so that there is no problem in grafting and cleaning of the nursery, he added.

Pakistan to be made strong industrial, agro-based economy: PM

SAHIWAL, Jan 30, 2021(APP,LPP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the government was taking steps to ensure sustainable growth through industrial and agro-based economy. Addressing here at the ceremony of cheque distribution under Ehsaas programme and provision of tractors under Kamyab Jawan programme, the Prime Minister said the government was collaborating with China in learning techniques in agriculture under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Prime Minister said Pakistan, particularly Punjab had immense potential in development in agriculture and livestock sectors, which could be exploited for the benefit of people. He said the industrial units in Gujranwala, Sialkot and Faisalabad industries experienced boom even during the pandemic. On launch of Rs 18 billion development projects in Sahiwal, he said the government was firm on the uplift of under-developed areas of the country.

Imran Khan said Sahiwal would be provided best facilities in the fields of health, education, road infrastructure and social welfare. He announced that every household across Punjab would get health insurance worth Rs 0.7 million by December. He said the inauguration of Rs 400 million sewerage plant in Sahiwal would provide treat waste water, which would be diverted towards irrigation of the adjoining forest area. The Prime Minister said reforestation was priority of the government as 10 billion tree plantation project was in progress on full swing.

He said the upcoming local government system would ensure power devolution and result in providing facilities to people at their doorsteps. Imran Khan lauded Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar and his team including Chief Secretary and Inspector General Punjab for nabbing the powerful illegal land occupants, some backed by a former prime minister and his family. “This is the real change when big dacoits are taken to task and brought to justice,” he said, adding that only those nations prosper that uphold the supremacy of law.

He said Islam’s first socio-welfare State of Medina was also based on the principles of justice and equality for all. The Prime Minister said the government would introduce uniform educational syllabus across the country, which would mainstream all students especially those from poor background. He said Ehsaas programme worked as a safety net for underdeveloped people, ensuring their free health, education and employment opportunities. Also, the Kamyab Jawan project has been serving poor by providing them easy loans, he added.

Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar said the province’s agro-based ministries were efficiently working as per the vision of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for the uplift of common man. He said not only Sahiwal, but also Chicha Watni and Harappa would be provided best municipal services.

Under the directive of Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said, the provincial government would hold consultations with National Highway Authority for connecting Sahiwal with motorway. Adviser to PM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar said as agriculture was the backbone of the country, the government was keen to uplift farmers through relief packages. On the other hand, he said, exploitation of farmers in the neighbouring India was on rise as hundreds took to streets in protest.

To get tractors in the government’s scheme, he said farmers in the country could apply through a portal and assured transparency in distribution. PM’s Special Assistant on Social Welfare and Dr Sania Nishtar said Rs 180 billion has so far been disbursed in the country under Ehsaas programme, with 504,000 households benefiting in Sahiwal.

She said several segments under the umbrella of Ehsaas project including Emergency Cash programme, Ehsaas Kifalat and stipends for primary school students were being carried out in a transparent manner. Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said Sahiwal would get 30 water filtration plants and would benefit 0.5 million people and a forest area spread on 100 acres. He said Chicha Watni would be declared as sanctuary to preserve forestation.

China, Pakistan agree on development of intelligent agricultural systems in Pakistan

BEIJING, Jan. 30, 2021(APP,LPP): China and Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance agricultural cooperation and establish intelligent agricultural systems in Pakistan. On behalf of Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Pakistan, Pakistan Ambassador to China, Moin Ul Haque singed a MOU with China Aerospace Construction Group co., Ltd.(CACG).

The signing of this MoU, as part of the celebration of 70 years of the establishment of China-Pakistan diplomatic ties, was a testament to the rapidly increasing Pakistan-China agriculture cooperation in the next stage of CPEC’s higher-quality development. Under the MoU, both sides would design and implement model projects across Pakistan using modern technology to upgrade Pakistan’s irrigation system for optimum use of water and fertilizer, and thereby increase production through quality and efficiency.

The MoU will also be instrumental in developing fishery industry and shrimp farming in Pakistan. According to China Economic Net (CEN) here on Friday, during the meeting, Ambassador Haque and Gao Feng, Chairman of CACG also discussed other possible projects for modernization of Pakistan’s agricultural sector, which was a priority under government’s socioeconomic development agenda for laying the foundations for sustained economic growth.

In view of the potential CAGC’s expertise in cutting edge technologies, other possible areas of cooperation were also discussed, including smart cities, water purification and vibration proof construction applications. The signing of the MoU was witnessed by Ahmed Farooq, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission, and Prof. Dr. Li Naihong, Vice President of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.

Transformation requires to achieve growth in Pakistan-Agriculture

ISLAMABAD, Jan 30, 2021(APP, LPP): The National Assembly Special Committee on Agricultural Products on Friday informed that transformation and value addition requires for achieving Agriculture growth rate of 7.5 percent by Fiscal year (FY) 2027-28. The committee notified that the overarching objective to achieve Agriculture growth rate of 7.5 percent and sustained by producer-owned integrated market-based value chains that gives incentive to producers to continue investing in modern and climate-smart production technologies, expansion of cultivated land area and value added activities.

The National Assembly Special Committee on Agricultural Products chaired by the Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser presented an integrated structural reforms oriented agricultural growth strategy for the next 7 years. The presentation was made to a Committee of the Cabinet working on the new agriculture package. In a bid to build the national consensus on the proposed agricultural growth strategy, Asad Qaiser called for a close scrutiny of the entire strategy. He added that after presentation to the Sub-Committee of the Cabinet on Agriculture, the strategy would be presented to the Prime Minister and subsequently the report would be laid in the National Assembly for debate.

The chief components of the strategy included Special initiatives for Balochistan, South Punjab, KP, Tharparkar, Cotton Revival program, Oilseed Development, Low-Cost Refinance Line of Credit and Credit Enhancement for Digital Production Finance, Digitization of Demand-Driven Extension Content, Integrated Seed System, Agriculture Climate Change Insurance Pool (Farmer Risk Transfer Mechanism) / Satellite-based Crop Reporting), Establishment of Agriculture Development Authority for Coordination of Reform Implementation, linkages with Ehsaas, Kamyab Jawan and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and incentives for promoting investment in warehousing, contract farming and farmers produce organizations.

The Convener of the Sub-Committee Ms. Shandana Gulzar Khan briefed the meeting on agricultural growth strategy. She presented a data driven snapshot of the structure of Pakistan’ agriculture sector followed by a presentation of the Sub-Committee’s proposed strategy. She highlighted that that the overarching goal of the proposed strategy is to boost agricultural exports, accelerate rural-development driven economic growth, reduce rural poverty, enhance financial and gender inclusion in the agricultural sector. Drawing upon historical data she explained that the inconsistent growth patterns of the agricultural sector reveals lack of consistency in policy and planning for the sector.

She further added that the proposed model envision a pro-poor growth strategy focusing on transformation of the business model of the 7.4 million smallholder farmers who cultivate 48 percent of the total cultivable land. She stated that the weak business model of the smallholder farmers comprising low bargaining power, low access to finance, low yields, fragmented market segment, lack of access to competitive markets and high production cost hindered the modernization of the agriculture sector. Shandana Gulzar Khan further added that the proposed strategy drawing upon eco-system based, multi-pronged three phased strategy seeks to transform Pakistan’s subsistence agriculture into modern, diversified, competitive and high-value agriculture with a particular focus on productivity and profitability of the smallholders’ farmers.

The Convener of the Sub-Committee explained that the objective of the plan is to accelerate the modernization of the agriculture sector so that the sector can generate resources for the sustained development of the economy with a high degree of self-reliance. She added that the proposed program would complement the Prime Minister’s initiatives for the agriculture sector. The meeting was attended by Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Syed Fakhar Imam and other MNAs.

Pakistan to be made strong industrial, agro-based economy: PM

SAHIWAL, Jan 30 (APP, LPP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the government was taking steps to ensure sustainable growth through industrial and agro-based economy. Addressing here at the ceremony of cheque distribution under Ehsaas programme and provision of tractors under Kamyab Jawan programme, the Prime Minister said the government was collaborating with China in learning techniques in agriculture under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Prime Minister said Pakistan, particularly Punjab had immense potential in development in agriculture and livestock sectors, which could be exploited for the benefit of people. He said the industrial units in Gujranwala, Sialkot and Faisalabad industries experienced boom even during the pandemic. On launch of Rs 18 billion development projects in Sahiwal, he said the government was firm on the uplift of under-developed areas of the country. Imran Khan said Sahiwal would be provided best facilities in the fields of health, education, road infrastructure and social welfare.

He announced that every household across Punjab would get health insurance worth Rs 0.7 million by December. He said the inauguration of Rs 400 million sewerage plant in Sahiwal would provide treat waste water, which would be diverted towards irrigation of the adjoining forest area. The Prime Minister said reforestation was priority of the government as 10 billion tree plantation project was in progress on full swing. He said the upcoming local government system would ensure power devolution and result in providing facilities to people at their doorsteps.

Imran Khan lauded Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar and his team including Chief Secretary and Inspector General Punjab for nabbing the powerful illegal land occupants, some backed by a former prime minister and his family. “This is the real change when big dacoits are taken to task and brought to justice,” he said, adding that only those nations prosper that uphold the supremacy of law. He said Islam’s first socio-welfare State of Medina was also based on the principles of justice and equality for all.

The Prime Minister said the government would introduce uniform educational syllabus across the country, which would mainstream all students especially those from poor background. He said Ehsaas programme worked as a safety net for underdeveloped people, ensuring their free health, education and employment opportunities. Also, the Kamyab Jawan project has been serving poor by providing them easy loans, he added. Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar said the province’s agro-based ministries were efficiently working as per the vision of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for the uplift of common man.

He said not only Sahiwal, but also Chicha Watni and Harappa would be provided best municipal services. Under the directive of Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said, the provincial government would hold consultations with National Highway Authority for connecting Sahiwal with motorway. Adviser to PM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar said as agriculture was the backbone of the country, the government was keen to uplift farmers through relief packages. On the other hand, he said, exploitation of farmers in the neighbouring India was on rise as hundreds took to streets in protest.

To get tractors in the government’s scheme, he said farmers in the country could apply through a portal and assured transparency in distribution. PM’s Special Assistant on Social Welfare and Dr Sania Nishtar said Rs 180 billion has so far been disbursed in the country under Ehsaas programme, with 504,000 households benefiting in Sahiwal.

She said several segments under the umbrella of Ehsaas project including Emergency Cash programme, Ehsaas Kifalat and stipends for primary school students were being carried out in a transparent manner. Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said Sahiwal would get 30 water filtration plants and would benefit 0.5 million people and a forest area spread on 100 acres. He said Chicha Watni would be declared as sanctuary to preserve forestation.

Chinese experience to add value in Pak Agri development: Chairman of CPEC Authority 

BEIJING, Jan. 27, 2021(APP, LPP): “The Chinese experience which is monumentally acknowledged worldwide will become very handy in adding value to our agriculture development of the country,” said Lt Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Chairman of CPEC Authority. Addressing at oneline launching ceremony of China-Pakistan Agricultural and Industrial Cooperation Information Platform, organized by China Economic Net (CEN) and China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), he said, “We are also looking forward to modernizing our supply chain, food processing industry and exports potential.”

“All the ministries are working and we are harmonizing our efforts to enhance our yield here, lifting our marginalized people out of poverty and then also enhancing our exports not only to China but to the entire world,” he added. He said this initiative of launching a platform for agriculture and industrial information by Ambassador Nong Rong supported by CMEC and CEN couldn’t have been at the better time. The platform will optimize the true potential of economic integration between the two countries.

He also said agriculture is highly essential for Pakistan’s food security and exports potential. Pakistan needs help in agriculture from mechanization to water management to cooperate farming and from seed germination to pest control. Pakistan needs help from our Chinese brothers, he remarked. The launching ceremony introduced the details of this platform, including its objective, plan and ways of use, etc.

At the same time, discussions themed China-Pakistan agricultural B2B cooperation and the building of industrial information communication platform were held, which are to discuss the current and the future development of bilateral agricultural and industrial cooperation. This platform will collect and display information and achievements of agriculture and industrial cooperation between China and Pakistan. Moreover, it will organize business forums, seminars, business delegations and other activities to promote exchanges and cooperation in the field of agriculture and industry, and advance B2B cooperation between the two countries.

PARC Provides Over 300 Mounds Pulses Seeds to Farmers of Tharparker

ISLAMABAD, Jan 25, 2021(APP, LPP):Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) in collaboration with local non- governmental organisations had distributed about 300 mounds seeds of different pulses to farmers of Tharparkar for promoting agriculture sector of the desert areas. The initiative was aimed at encouraging pulses farming in these areas to address malnutrition and provide livelihood opportunities to the people. “We had formed different beans cluster for multiplication of seeds in order to attain self sufficiency in pulses seeds and fulfill the dietary needs of these areas”, said Dr Azeem Ahmad Khan Chairman PARC.

Talking to APP, he said they were providing about 200 to 300 mounds seeds every year to promote beans production in these areas for fulfilling the local consummation. “We had also provided about 50-60 mounds of moong pulses and other seeds of staple food that would help strengthen government efforts to overcome the issues related to malnutrition”, he added. He said other pulses matching with the environment of desert areas were also provided to them as it required less resources and gave better output.

Meanwhile, a bio fertilizer plant has also been installed in Tharparkar to manufacture bio-fertilizer converting locust crisis into opportunity start through developing its bio-compost through community mobilization. The locust-based fertilizer would have added advantage of more N (9%) and P (7%), he said adding that initially locust would be unruffled through community mobilization under incentivized scheme. Sofar aboit 1,500 bahs of fertilizer had been distributed among the farming community.

Meanwhile, Dr Attaullah Directed PARC North Zone informed that 14 varieties of gawa, which was matching to local ecology, were also developed and distributed among the farmers to develop fruit orchids. Besides, 38 varieties of dates were also grown and 13 types of different grasses over 10 acres were also developed, he said adding that these interventions had helped to create livelihood opportunities as well as fulfilling the food requirements of local communities.

Meanwhile, forest blocks were also established on four acres and different fruit plants including olive were cultivated, he said adding that jojoba plants were grown over 45 acres to develop orchards and fruit farming in these areas. In collaboration with local foundation, about 50,000 plants of different kinds including fruits and trees for shadow provided to 20 villages, he added.

Agriculture contribution and problems in Pakistan:Jaffar Iqbal

LYALLPUR CITY, Jan 24, 2021 (Republished): It accounting for over 21 percent of GDP, 45 percent of total labor force engaged with this sector. Around 63 percent of country population live in rural areas is indirectly  or directly linked with this sector for their livelihood. Agriculture sector have Strong linkage with the rest of the economy that is unnoticed in statistics. While on the Other hand, it is the primary supplier of raw materials to downstream industry, that contributing significantly to Pakistan’s export; it is the largest market for industrial manufactured goods such as pesticides, fertilizers, tractors and agriculture equipment’s.

Predictor variable comprises five sub-sectors include Major, Minor crops, livestock’s, fisheries and forestry. Major crops consist of cotton, rice, wheat and sugarcane etc. and contribute 6.5% solely to the GDP. Cotton is the main non-food crop that is used as a raw material for the textile industry. Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton. Rice and Wheat are the major food crop out of which rice is also one of the main export items of the country. Sugarcane is another important crop grown for sugar and sugar related products. Minor crops consist of oil seeds, vegetables, pulses, chilies and other small crops. Oil seed crops include cottonseeds, rapeseed/mustard, sunflower and  canola etc.

Role of Agriculture in Economic Development

Agriculture have great role in economic development and prosperity. Following are some important contributions of agriculture as;

  1. Contribution to National Income
  2. Source of Food Supply
  3. Pre-Requisite for Raw Material
  4. Provision of Surplus
  5. Shift of Manpower:
  6. Creation of Infrastructure:
  7. Relief from Shortage of Capital:
  8. Helpful to Reduce Inequality
  9. Based on Democratic Notions
  10. Create Effective Demand
  11. Helpful in Phasing out Economic Depression:
  12. Source of Foreign Exchange for the Country
  13. Contribution to Capital Formation:
  14. Employment Opportunities for Rural People:
  15. Extension of Market for Industrial Output

Role of Agriculture in GDP of Pakistan

Current GDP of Pakistan is 305 billion. Contribution of major crops in agriculture sector is about to be 25.6 % and contribution of major crops in GDP is almost 5.4% according to the economic survey of Pakistan. Wheat contributes approximately 10.3% in agriculture. Sugarcane is also a cash crop and food crop.

Agriculture accounts for 18.9 % of GDP and employed bulk of the total work force. Agriculture sector recorded a growth of 3.46 percent in FY 2017 as compared to the growth of 0.27 percent last year. The crops sub sector comprises of 37.22 percent of agriculture sector and is the basic driver of growth of the agriculture sector as well as GDP.

Problems in Agriculture  of Pakistan

Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economic and facing a cyclones of problems in Pakistan as;

  • Lack of Modern Agriculture technology
  • Poor Financial Position of Farmer
  • Limited Cultivable Area
  • Waterlogging and salinity
  • Slow Growth of Allied Product
  • Low per Hectare Yield
  • Inadequate Infrastructure
  • Uneconomic Land holdings
  • Old method of Production
  • Inadequate supply of Agriculture Inputs
  • Lack of irrigation Facilities
  • Inadequate Agriculture Research Center
  • Problem of Land Reforms
  • Defective Land Reforms
  • Subsistence Farming
  • Low Cropping intensity
  • Improper Crop Rotation
  • Various Plant diseases and Natural Calamities
  • Email Address: jaffariqbal987@gmail.com , Phone Number +923030202898 B.Sc (HONS.) Agronomy University of Agriculture Faisalabad

Urban Farm Fills Niche While Mentoring Marginalized Youth-Diana Martin

As a new urban farmer, Cheyenne Sundance is intent on growing more than just fresh produce. Sundance, who is mixed-race Black-identifying, saw a void in access to two things in her local farmer’s market – year-round fresh greens and diversity. So she decided to fill them both.

Why it matters: Agriculture has not been a diverse sector, and there is interest in bringing more diversity into food production.

“I always say my farm is rooted in food justice because I do grow really great produce year-round but I also grow new farmers,” Sundance told attendees of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) virtual annual conference in December. In 2019 the 23-year-old launched Sundance Harvest, a small-scale garden business on one-third of an acre in North Toronto’s Downsview Park. Using her two greenhouses and 10,000 square feet of outdoor plots, Sundance produces a steady flow of herbs, salad mix, kale, collards and chard year-round with more seasonal offerings throughout of tomatoes, mushrooms, sorrel, spinach, microgreens, zucchini, peppers cucumbers and cut flowers.

Cheyenne Sundance.photo: Cheyenne Sundance

“These are very easy crops to grow in an intensive way,” she said, adding she grows year-round in the greenhouses, but starts production in the field in April and grows to the end of December. “I find the most profitable thing for my urban farm is salad mix,” she said. “I sell easily 100 bags a week, 200 if I actually have the capacity to produce 200 bags.” Sundance acknowledges if she farmed rurally it would cost less, likely involve greater land availability and easier infrastructure and crop expansion into items that require more space, such as squash and watermelon.

As an urban farmer, she said land is limited, costly and, because it’s rented, requires significant discussions before infrastructure expansion can take place if it’s even approved. However, the greatest positive of urban farming is community engagement and being accessible to consumers by transit, which allows them to visit the farm, ask questions and engage with the process, said Sundance. “For me, the upsides make it worth it,” she said, especially when it comes to establishing food justice and creating agriculture-based education opportunities for marginalized communities who often face higher rates of food insecurity, food injustice, social isolation and mental health crises.

A 2018 study from the University of Toronto’s PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research indicated the highest rates of food insecurity in Canada occur in Indigenous or Black households at 28.2 per cent and 28.9 per cent respectively. Sundance, who grew up with food insecurities, wanted to provide a space where Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colour (BIPOC), LGBTQ2S, gender non-conforming and youth with disabilities could learn everything about agriculture from seed saving to harvesting, distribution to retail and gain control over their food systems.

Leading by example, Sundance assessed a void in her local farmers’ market, developed a business plan, applied for and received a $5,000 grant to launch Sundance Harvest and within a year has created enough steady income through her  Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription box and Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market customers to provide herself with a salary and pay her staff a living wage. “A lot of people in Toronto are very interested in urban agriculture and they want to support it in anyway possible,” she said. “I’ve only had one person drop out (of the CSA) and that was in the last few months because they moved.”

Her online farm store was part of the pandemic pivot many businesses made to stay afloat during the pandemic. Sundance’s online store includes unique maple products, wild-caught fish from Nunavut, herb salt, botanical tea and holistic snacks by BIPOC producers. “Because there is such a lack of diversity in agriculture and a lack of opportunity for us I really wanted to centre our products in my store,” she said. She tries to add a new producer to her site weekly. Sundance Harvest has evolved so quickly she was able to launch Growing in the Margins, a free 12-week education program for low-income youth facing barriers within the food system.

It offered two streams, one in mentorship and the other a drop-in program, some of which has been suspended temporarily due to COVID-19 restrictions. Sundance said the program is open to youth 18 to 25 who self-identify as low-income, BIPOC, LGBTQ2S, gender non-conforming or disabled who are interested in a career in agriculture or leading community food sovereignty movements, but lack hands-on farming education. “I wanted to learn from someone who had a similar lived experience so they could mentor me, teach me and ensure that I wouldn’t have as much of a hard time getting started,” she said. “Growing in the Margins is the only place they (marginalized youth) feel safe to learn.”

Sundance said there is no labour exchange for their education. She provides a curriculum covering everything from seed saving to planting, irrigation to organic pest control and harvest to marketing to help smooth the path for others who have an interest in agriculture but no idea of how to start. “The majority of the youth that finish the program actually start careers in agriculture,” she said. Eventually, Sundance hopes Growing in the Margins will evolve into a closed-loop system where the community provides land resources for an urban farm. That farm feeds people and sells its produce at a farmers market creating financial support and jobs. The circle then begins again with potential urban farmers again being mentored and educated to the point they can start their own farms.

“I didn’t see myself represented in agriculture and I wanted to be a farmer,” she said. “It was really important to me… to have a farm that reflected something I didn’t see in agriculture.” Each step she takes growing her business and Growing in the Margins brings her closer to her goal of eradicating systematic racism in the food system, shining a light on the profitability of urban farming and providing marginalized youth with an opportunity to see themselves reflected in the agricultural sector.

Diana Martin has spent more than two decades in the media sector, first as a photojournalist and then evolving into a multi-media journalist. Five years ago she left mainstream media and brought her skills to the agriculture sector. She owns a small farm in Amaranth, Ont.

Risk Management Needs Support Now :

Canada's agriculture sector is in a position to help lead the post-pandemic economic recovery. But in order to do so, farmers are telling their governments that they cannot do it without help. | File photo

ALBANY: After providing Canadian families with a reliable source of food throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s agriculture sector is in a position to help lead the post-pandemic economic recovery. But in order to do so, farmers are telling their governments that they cannot do it without help. Beyond the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, producers have faced many extraordinary challenges beyond our control over the last few years.

We have experienced trade disputes such as the Chinese canola embargo. Unpredictable climate and weather patterns are a growing concern most recently 2019’s prolonged drought that stretched into the spring of 2020. Our competing producers in the U.S. and European Union have received significantly greater subsidization. These huge subsidy payments have artificially inflated the price of many of our inputs and farm equipment, while distorting global agricultural markets.

Effective business risk management programs are essential to provide farmers with the confidence to invest in their operations while managing risks such as international trade disputes and poor weather. For years, Canadian farmers have been asking for improvements to AgriStability, the centrepiece of Canada’s risk management programs.

In late November, federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau listened to farmers’ concerns and tabled proposed changes to BRM programs at the federal, provincial and territorial agricultural ministers meeting. The changes include removing the reference margin limit, which would increase funding for farmers by more than 30 percent, and increasing the compensation rate from 70 to 80 percent, bringing funding to farmers up by more than 50 percent

This was welcome news to many agricultural producers across Canada and will reverse some of the cuts to the program made in 2013 — but only if provincial governments agree to the federal proposal. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has been pushing provincial governments to support our members in their greatest time of need.

Farmers have been consistent that AgriStability needs to be more robust, predictable, and bankable for it to be an effective risk management tool. It is important to recognize that the program acts as insurance. Payments are only made when there is a major drop in income at the farmgate. Just like you never want to have to use your house fire insurance, no producer ever wants to have to trigger AgriStability.

Market disruption and uncertainty due to processing plant lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic have seriously affected livestock, driving up costs and causing major farmgate revenue losses. Farmers have struggled to manage these risks without a credible AgriStability system in place, and the current funding model has remained stagnant. Since 2013, governments have not increased funding to keep up with inflation, let alone the increasing risks producers are facing.

Agriculture is a major driver of the Canadian economy. Producers have invested billions of dollars in inputs, equipment, technology, and land improvements. This investment has created a world leading food production system that produces billions of dollars of gross domestic product annually.

A short-term investment is needed right now to provide a bridge to a better long-term program and a foundation for new programming options in 2023. Agriculture can be one of the economic leaders as Canada recovers from the impact of COVID-19. A better funded BRM program is needed to provide a backstop if circumstances arise that cause a major drop in farm income. Producers need to manage risk if we want to see continued growth and expansion of the industry.

It is time for governments across the country to provide increased support for this critical sector during these uncertain times. The offer that has been tabled is not perfect, but it is the first new offer of funding into the program since 2013. Bibeau’s offer needs the support of the provinces before it can be ratified, without which these long-sought reforms are in jeopardy for farmers across Canada. Farmers in all provinces are telling their governments that they need this help, and they need it now.

Farmers across Canada urge the provinces and federal government to come together and agree to the proposed policy changes before the end of January so that we can have the support we need during this crucial year. Given the uncertainties that will persist into 2021 and beyond, this is an opportunity to support Canadian agriculture that cannot be passed by.

Mary Robinson is president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. She is also managing partner of a sixth generation family farm operation in Albany, P.E.I.

Should Livestock Be Fed Our Leftovers?

Cycling food waste toward livestock feed may seem like a noble approach to handling trash, but it’s not necessarily a safe practice.

REGINA:Whether it be from supermarkets, restaurants or household kitchens, people throw away a lot of food. Or rather, they feed it to animals. In many countries such as Canada, close to 40 percent of total food loss comes from these later stages of the supply chain. While cycling food waste toward animal feed may seem like a noble approach to handling this challenge, the question remains: is food waste safe for animals?

Food waste materials are defined differently, depending on where they come from within the supply chain. The term “food loss” refers to waste generated during food processing and manufacturing (many of these items are safely diverted to animal feed in the form of byproducts). The term “food waste” refers to items discarded at retail or consumer levels. These carry a higher risk for harbouring contaminants and disease.

Feeding uncooked food waste to animals not only puts their health at risk, but also the entire food chain, especially if that food waste is contaminated with meat products. In 2019, 25 to 35 percent of the global pork supply was wiped out from African swine fever — a highly transmissible viral disease that has been linked with feeding food waste to pigs.

In 2001, more than six million lambs, pigs and cattle died during the European foot-and-mouth disease epidemic, which was linked to the feeding of uncooked food waste to animals. Other diseases like vesicular exanthema (a swine disease similar to foot-and-mouth), trichinosis (caused by parasitic roundworms in pigs), and BSE have also had devastating effects on livestock industries. All have been linked to improper feeding of food waste products.

Raw food waste can also harbour infectious organisms worrisome to public health, even if the food waste is plant-based. The risk of plant-based food waste being contaminated with salmonella, for example, may depend on the type of plants it came from. A study published in Frontiers of Microbiology found that certain vegetable plants tend to be colonized by salmonella more than others.

So, even if raw food waste is free of meat contaminants, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe for animals. Heavy metals and toxins are another risk factor to be considered before feeding food waste to livestock. A survey of European household and restaurant waste found that the levels of lead, cadmium and dioxins exceeded allowable limits for livestock feed.

These compounds accumulate in the food chain and can negatively impact human and animal health. From animal feed to animal welfare to public health, all stages of the food supply chain are connected. That’s why many countries have implemented strict regulations around the use of food waste as animal feed. And while the practice of feeding food waste to animals has decreased, it has not been eliminated.

A survey from the United Kingdom estimated that 24 percent of small producers continue to feed uncooked household food waste to their livestock. In Canada, feeding raw household or donated food waste to a producer’s own animals is allowed. It is the exception to the rules, as long as it isn’t contaminated with meat and the resulting animal products are not sold to anyone else. These exceptions are confusing and send conflicting messages about the safety of the practice and raise concerns throughout the food industry.

Janna Moats is a professional agrologist and science writer from Saskatoon.

Sugar mills withhold My lakhs of rupees, DC Should Take notice: Farmer

SHAHJAMAL, Jan 16, 2021: Tandlia Nawala Sugar Mills took notice deputy commissioner for a cash-block of lakhs of rupees. Rana Nisar Ahmed, a progressive cultivator resident of Shahjamal, said the Tandiyanwala Sugar Mills administration has kept its mentioned amount from two months despite the release of CPRs worth Rs 7 lakh by buying a sugarcane from it, demanding a notice from Deputy Commissioner Muzaffargarh Amjad Shoaib Khan tarun and order to the mill owner forpayment of money.

AC visit sugar mills explore problems with Farmers

KHANPUR, Jan 16, 2021: Assistant Commissioner Khanpur Muhammad Yusuf Khama Hamza made a sudden visit to sugar mills and discovered their problems with thefarmers present there. He Checked of CPR and sugar mills weighing scaleon and the deduction.

Complete sunflower cultivation by January 31: Malik Kalim Korya

DERA GHAZI KHAN, Jan 15, 2021:Addressing a farmers seminar at Mahadi Jalwar, Dera Ghazi khan, Assistant Director Agriculture  (Extension) Malik Muhammad Kaleem Koria said that sunflower sowing is a major ingredient for edible oil and edible oil is an important ingredient for balanced diet. Unfortunately, despite being an agricultural country, huge quantities of edible oil have to be imported. Farmers can make the country self-help in oil production by promoting sunflower cultivation. Farmers can complete the cultivation of sunflower by January 31.021. for better production.

Promotion, development of agriculture sector govt’s foremost priority: PM

LAHORE, Jan 15, 2021 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said as the country’s 60 percent population was involved in the agriculture sector, its promotion and development on modern lines was the government’s foremost priority. He directed the Government of Punjab to formulate a separate comprehensive action plan for value chain of every agricultural product to improve agricultural productivity and capacity.

The prime minister was presiding over a meeting about increasing agricultural productivity and value chains in Punjab. Federal ministers Muhammad Hamad Azhar and Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, provincial ministers Syed Hussain Gardezi and Muhammad Sabtain Khan, Special Assistant to the CM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and other senior officials were in attendance.

The prime minister directed that besides addressing the basic food security issues, the value chains of agricultural produce should be fully focused. He further stressed for the formulation of a comprehensive strategy with timelines under which the agricultural productivity could be tripled from the current level. For complete reforms in the agriculture sector, the prime minister directed to run all agriculture-related sectors, including livestock, fisheries etc. on modern and corporate lines.

Imran Khan assured full support of the Federal Government to the Government of Punjab for immediate redressal of all the issues coming in the way of agricultural reforms in the province. Dr Salman Shah, Advisor to the Punjab CM, briefed the meeting about suggestions for enhancing agricultural productivity and promoting value chains as per the PM’s vision. The prime minister was also briefed about the issuance of Kissan Card for the financial assistance of farmers in Punjab.

Minister for Agriculture Punjab Visited PMAS-AAUR

RAWALPINDI, Jan14, 2021: Punjab Government has taken revolutionary steps to increase water resources in Potohar Region said Minister for Agriculture Punjab Syed Hussain Jahania Gardezi. Chairing the progress review meeting held on January 13, 2021 at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR), he directed the authorities concerned that the agricultural development projects particularly launched in Potohar region should be completed within stipulated time frame.

The Vice Chancellor (VC) PMAS-AAUR, Prof. Dr Qamar uz Zaman, all directors of different wings of Agriculture Department Punjab, Rawalpindi division and dean directors of the university were present on the occasion. The Minister said that all the wings of the Department should collaborate with Arid Agriculture University for resolving the problems of the agriculture sector being faced here in Potohar region. He said that water conservation is need of the hour and essential for the region. The Punjab government is very keen in construction of water reservoirs including water ponds and water tanks in Potohar region.

The government is also focusing on installation of high efficiency irrigation systems i.e drip and sprinkler irrigation on 60 percent subsidy for efficient use of water, he added. He said that solar systems are also being provided to the farmers on 50 percent subsidy to run drip irrigation systems. The Minister said that to increase the area of fruit and vegetable, the workers of the agriculture department should disseminate the advance agricultural technologies to the farming community at their door steps which will help decrease the input cost of the farmers.

The minister directed the officers to complete the ongoing agricultural development projects within stipulated time frame. Earlier, Prof. Dr Qamar uz Zaman said that the university is doing research to resolve the problems of the Potohar Region. He said, being the agriculturist country, it is need of the hour that Pakistan's agriculture is put on the path of the developed world. In the meeting he said that university's main objective is academia but we have to link our academia with the practical field that where our grower and consumer can be benefitted.

The university has all the resources to facilitate its students in the practical field, he added. The Minister appreciated the progress and ongoing work of all the wings of Agriculture Department Punjab and formulated a committee which will work on the coordination criteria between the PMAS-AAUR with other allied departments and directed to submit the report within a month. He also directed the VC to arrange the lectures for the students before going in the field by the department's field staff where the field experiences would be a major part.

Indian Supreme Court sets up panel to end farm law protests

From Left to Right: Bhupinder Singh Mann, Anil Ghanwat, Ashok Gulati and Pramod Kumar Joshi.

NEW DELHI, Jan 13, 2021:In a bid to end the ongoing impasse over the new farm laws, the Supreme Court Tuesday suspended the implementation of the three farm laws until further notice, and also decided to set up a committee comprising experts to hear the parties and understand the ground situation. “We will form a committee which will submit a report to us very person who is genuinely interested in solving the problem is expected to go before the committee. The committee will not punish you or pass any orders. It will submit a report to us,” a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said.

However, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee in a statement expressed apprehension over some of the members chosen in the committee. “It is clear that the court is being misguided by various forces even in its constitution of a committee. These are people who are known for their support to the three acts and have actively advocated for the same,” the body said in a statement. The four members of the committee set up by the apex court will include the following:

Bhupinder Singh Mann

Born in Gujranwala (now in Pakistan), Bhupinder Singh Mann was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1990 for his contribution to the struggle of farmers. He remained a member of the Upper House for six years until 1996. He is also a longstanding member and currently the president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU).

Anil Ghanwat

Anil Ghanwat is currently the president of the Shetkari Sanghatana, a Maharashtra-based union that was founded by the legendary farm leader Sharad Joshi. The Sanghatana was one of the first bodies to come out in support of the farm reforms announced by the central government. The body was also amongst the group of farmers’ union that had met Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to express support for the farm laws against which thousands of farmers are protesting at the borders of Delhi.

According to Ghanwat, the law restricts the power of the APMCs to regulate agricultural trade within its four walls, and allows for actual free markets to operate for the farmers. “Just a handful of traders control the auctions. Now with the markets opening up, we hope newer traders will enter the trade. This will help fair competition if under pressure from farmers in just two states the central government takes the decision to repeal the Act, it would mean the end of the road for this ( open-market initiative),” Ghanwat had said following his meeting with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi

Born in Uttarakhand’s Almora in 1953, Dr Pramod Kumar Joshi is a known name in the field of agriculture research. Joshi had earlier served as the director of the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management, Hyderabad, and the director of the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research in New Delhi. Joshi had also held the position of Director (South Asia) at the International Food Policy Research Institute in New Delhi. He was appointed as Director in 2012.

Ashok Gulati

An eminent agricultural economist, Gulati is a professor for Agriculture at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER). He is also a former Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), Government of India (2011-14). Gulati was also the youngest member of the Economic Advisory Council of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and a member of the Economic Advisory Council of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and member of the State Planning Board of Karnataka.

Gulati was honoured with a Padma Shri award in 2015 by the President for his contribution to the field. In a column written for the India Express, Gulati had expressed a gross communication failure on the part of the central government to explain farmers about the newly enacted laws and their benefits.

Cotton Prices in Pakistan Hit a 10-Year High

LYALLPUR CITY, Jan 13, 2021: Cotton prices in Pakistan’s domestic market hit a 10-year high of Rs. 11,000 per 40 kgs over the past week. A national daily reported the cause to be most likely the decreasing production and rising demand. The import orders for 4.2 million bales have also been finalized, the news report said.

A decline in the production led millers to keep buying from the local market, while ginners preferred selling due to increased prices. Put together, dealers said, these factors caused cotton rates to shoot up by Rs. 400 to Rs. 500 per 40 kgs (also known as one maund). Prices of cotton yarn and polyester also followed suit.

This increase in prices led to high-quality cotton rates to clock in at Rs. 11,000 per maund. This is the highest level in the last decade, and experts familiar with the industry believe that they may rise even further by 20 percent to 50 percent in the coming days.

U.S. investigates blueberry imports from Canada: Sarbmeet Singh

SURREY, B.C, Jan 13, 2021: Gurprit Singh Brar is fighting to hold onto his farm’s vital blueberry markets in the United States after the U.S. International Trade Commission announced an investigation into Canadian blueberry imports. The Vancouver-area farmer said he welcomes the support offered by the British Columbia government to assist farmers in fending off the trade challenge.

“As the U.S. is major market, this proposed tariff will have a negative impact on the blueberry growers in British Columbia” said Singh Brar, who farms 100 acres of blueberries near Langley, B.C. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer requested an investigation by the International Trade Commission in September following reports that U.S. farmers are being hurt by cheaper imported berries from Canada.

The B.C. government has contributed funds to the federal government for economic research designed to strengthen Canada’s legal strategy. “We stand together with our B.C. growers to protect this valued industry and the family-supporting jobs it provides,” said B.C. ministers of agriculture and economy Lana Popham and Ravi Kahlon in a joint statement last week.

There are about 600 blueberry growers farming about 27,000 acres in B.C. The industry is concentrated in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland and produces about 160 million pounds of the berries each year. Rajpal Singh also produces blueberries in the area. The Surrey farmer said times have been tight for growers and market losses would be serious if the U.S. initiates import controls. “Blueberry growers are already facing losses. So the funding from the government will be a boon for the industry,” said Rajpal Singh.

China to set up eight agricultural research centres in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Jan 10, 2021(Re-Published): Outgoing Chinese Ambassador, Yao Jing has said that eight agricultural research centers would be established as part of agricultural cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In a farewell briefing to media on Friday, Ambassador Yao Jing said that agricultural collaboration between the two countries would include both government-to-government (G2G) research and business-to-business (B2B) interaction.

He explained that under the G2G mode, a pest control center would be established in Karachi, while under the B2B model, Pakistani companies would forge cooperation with Chinese private companies, adding that two Pakistani companies have already been identified in this regard. Ambassador Yao Jing further said some Chinese companies were also interested in Pakistan’s halal food industry.

“For south Balochistan, the Pakistani government wants to build a dates’ processing factory, while a mango processing plant is also being discussed. Plantation of oilseeds would be encouraged in the area and establishment of a meat processing unit is also on the cards.” Regarding his farewell, Ying said that he had served in Pakistan for 11-years and that he thoroughly enjoyed his stay.

Yao Jing further maintained the CPEC cooperation has been further consolidated in the past three years and he was very happy the way PM Imran Khan and the Pakistani government are handling the CPEC projects. He said that 16 projects have been completed so far under the CPEC, including KKH second phase and Orange Line Metro Train.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa hosted a farewell dinner in honour of the outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing in Islamabad. The army chief thanked the ambassador for his services and appreciated his contributions for fostering strong ties between Pakistan and China, support towards defense and security cooperation, handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and stance on Kashmir.

Later on, the Chinese ambassador also made a farewell call on the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh at the Finance Division. The adviser lauded the commitment with which Jing worked for the progress of the Pak-China relationship. He addmitted the contributions of the envoy and China’s leadership for Pakistan and hoped that his predecessor will work on the same lines.

Pakistan needs investment in agricultural research

KARACHI, Jan 10, 2021: Researchers have stressed the need for adequate investment in agricultural research to help boost the economy of the country. At a seminar held at the National Nematological Research Centre (NNRC) of Karachi University on Tuesday, 25 researchers, representing different agriculture universities of the country, highlighted the significance of nematode identification for better management of agricultural sector of Pakistan.

“The specific method related to identification of nematodes is said to be highly efficient and through proper investment, it can be used as an important source of information and enable farmers to protect their crops,” they underlined. Addressing the participants, Karachi University Vice Chancellor Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi said that the varsity was making extraordinary efforts to promote research culture in the country.

He was of the opinion that Pakistan direly needed to adopt modern technologies and techniques to boost its agricultural growth. Speaking at the occasion, ECO Science Foundation President Manzoor Hussain Soomro shared the working and services of his centre, adding that promotion of improved methods in teaching of science was one of the prime initiatives of the ECO Foundation. He mentioned that the organisation focused on the evaluation of existing training facilities in the region and formulated training programmes aimed at building highly skilled scientific and technical manpower.

He added that the foundation also designed programmes to strengthen the scientific, engineering and research and development institutions. “ECO Science Foundation is working in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for promotion of science and technology based economic development in these countries,” said Soomro. “Generating new knowledge and turning it into innovative solutions is crucial to maintain and enhance the competitiveness in today’s science and technology based world.”

Southern Zone Agriculture Research Center Director General Dr Attaullah Khan said that his department closely coordinated with the students of Karachi University, Shah Abdul Latif University - Khairpur and Sindh Agriculture University - Tando Jam. NNRC Director Dr Saboohi Raza, while shedding light on the aim and objectives of the event, expressed optimism that it would act as a platform to enable scientists to share knowledge and learn from each other. She mentioned that NNRC had published over 1,000 research papers in leading national and international journals.

National Tea Day Celebrated at NTHRI, Shinkiari, Mansehra

ISLAMABAD, Jan 10, 2021 (PARC):National Tea Day was celebrated at PARC-National Tea and High Value Crops Research Institute, Shinkiari, Mansehra on 15th December, 2020 with the collaboration of Agri-Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan. National Tea Day Celebration ceremonty was participated by Agricultural Research Departments, Private tea companies ie Uni-lever and Zaiqa tea, Islamabad, NGOs, Local Communities, students of Unvieritites and Schools thorugh dipslay of tea and other hgih value agricultural products along with the black, green, oloong, jamine scented and Kashmiri chai stalls. The Day celebrations were prsieded by Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali, Member Plant Sciences Divsison, PARC, Islamabad.

Dr. Abdul Waheed, Director, PARC-NTHRI, Shinkiari highlighted the importance of Celebrating National Tea Day with the  goal to promote and foster collective actions to implement activities in favour of the sustainable production and consumption of tea and raise awareness of its importance in fighting hunger and poverty. He also explained in detail the long history and the deep cultural and economic significance of tea in Pakistan and around the world. He said that International Tea Day is being observed on December 15 in many countries including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Uganda, India and Tanzania.

He said that for the promotion of tea cultivation in Pakistan it is needed to celebrate the day to highight the improtance of tea in our national econonomy and efferots needed for indiginous tea production on sustainable basis to save valuabe froeign exchange. Director NTHRI also briefed the particpants about the research and development activities being carried out at the Institute for the promotion of kiwfuit, olive and othe high value crops cultivation. Heinformed the participants about the availability of true to type fruits nursery plants, kiwifruit plant, olive plants, oil extraction facility, tea processing facilities, soil analysis services for the growers at NTHRI. He said that NTHRI has a close coordination with sister organizatiosn for collaborative approaches to devise plans for making agricuture as profitable business for the local farming communities.

Dr. Ghulam Ali, Member Plant Sciences Divsison, PARC, Islamabad said that Allah Almighty has blessed Pakistan with diverse climatic zones starting from sea level to Karakuram ranges and variety of agricultural crops can be produced round the year. There exists a huge potential to utilize this diversity on sustainble basis for food security and agri-tourism. He said that we have plenty of natural resources but the need of the day is to manage them properly for productive utilization keeping the needs of our future generations safeguarded.

He said that with effoerts of PARC Scientists, release of high yielding crops cutivars along with development of appropriate production and processing technologies, the country is now self-suffcient in major food items despite high expansion in population. He invited private sectors and allied organizations to play their role in the commercialization of tea production in Pakistan as PARC-NTHRI has done successful research work for the development of tea production and processing technologies. He appreciated the role of PARC-NTHRI and Agri-Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan for jointly organizing festival on tea, a global beverage.

Mr. Tariq Tanveer CEO Agri-Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan briefed the participants that how Agri-Tourism can be used as a source of income generation in Pakistan. He said that we have many imortant agricultural commiditites, whose significance can be highlighted through celebrations in the areas particular to their production and the local communities can benfit manifold through attarction and active participation of the tourists and public. He showed many successful agri-torurism activities in different coutries of the world and explained the retuturns and benfits to the area development. He suggested for declaration of National Tea Day according to tea crop active growing conditions under the local climate.

On this occasion other speakers i.e. Dr. Sahib Gul, Director Agricultural Research Station Baffa, Mr.  Khalid Mehmood, President Zaiqa Tea Company, Islamabadand different farmers highlighted the role of NTHRI and PARC in the promotion of tea and other high value crops.The growers and other participants took keen interest in visiting the Stalls and were briefed about the development of variouis products and technologies related to tea and other high value crops. The praticpants appreciated the role of PARC-NTHRI, Shinkiari for providing quality services to the growers of the area for higher productivity. At the end of the programme shileds were distributed as acknowledgment among those who had rendered services for the promotion of tea cultivaton in Pakistan and those who made this Tea Day Celebration event a successful.

CPEC to boost Agriculture Sector in Pakistan: Chairman PARC

Islamabad, Jan 10, 2021 (PARC): Parliamentary Committee on CPEC headed by Mr. Sher Ali Arbab (MNA)/ Chairman Committee visited National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) this Wednesday. Secretary MNFS&R, Mr. Ghufran Memon, Chairman PARC Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan alongwith DG NARC Engr. Shamimul Sibtain Shah welcomed the members of the Committee.

The purpose of this meeting was to make agriculture sector an important part of CPEC and find possible Pak-China agricultural cooperation and technical assistance through PARC interventions. PARC National Agriculture Research Centre is the largest research center of PARC. The delegacy was briefed about various agri. research & development activities carried out by the institutes working under NARC. A display exhibition of PARC research products and technologies was also arranged for the said delegation. Chairman Committee on CPEC Mr. Sher Ali Arbab (MNA) chaired the meeting while Dr. Azeem Khan presented a comprehensive report about PARC and other projects related to agriculture sector.

On the occasion, Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan identified the Joint Working Groups, agricultural commodities in different Agro-ecologies along CPEC routes and Modern Pakistan Cotton Farm Project by CMEC China. He further added solutions for cotton crises through improved agricultural technologies which is possible by the development of water saving cotton farms and expanding its planting area.

While sharing 10 years development targets under CPEC Chairman PARC told our aim is to change Pakistan from cotton import country to cotton export country and save foreign exchange of 1.5 billion USD. Besides renovation of existing orchards, introduction of new varieties, reduce post-harvest losses, improve value chain and development of rural industries are our major proposed interventions.

Mr. Sher Ali Arbab, Chairman, Parliamentary Committee on CPEC, after the briefing, emphasized that we must first address the existing agricultural infrastructure in Pakistan and its shortcomings so that in the light of modern agricultural knowledge and experience comprehensive and sustainable strategies can be formulated and solutions to the shortcomings in agriculture can be found on a modern scientific basis.             

ECC approves import of additional wheat

ISLAMABAD, Jan 8, 2021: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday has approved the import of additional wheat to buffer up stocks till the arrival of fresh crop. The ECC meeting, which was chaired by Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, discussed the wheat issue in the country. Ministry for National Food Security and Research presented a detailed summary regarding provision of additional quantities of wheat to KP, AJ&K and Utility Stores Corporations (USC).

The additional secretary, M/o NFS&R, gave a detailed presentation regarding availability of wheat stocks across the country. The ECC approved additional wheat allocation of 200,000 MT for KP, 80,000MT for AJ&K, and 220,000MT for USC from PASSCO, as requested. ECC also approved the import of additional wheat to buffer up stocks till the arrival of fresh crop after seeking detailed input from all concerned.

Ministry of Commerce presented a summary regarding removal of additional 2% customs duties on 152 tariff lines, mostly raw material, on horizontal basis under National Tariff Policy 2019-24. The ECC approved the summary with a direction that budget cycle must be observed while planning important incentives for businesses & industries for smooth planning and subsequent implementation during the financial year.

“Our policy regarding reducing Customs Duties on raw material is certainly showing results. In line with this policy, in yesterday’s ECC meeting, additional Customs Duty has been removed on 152 tariff lines in mainly the chemical sector,” said Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood on twitter. He further said that this will be one more step in making our chemical industry more competitive for both local market as well as exports. “These tariff reductions were done after extensive consultations with the stakeholders and I hope its benefits will start showing results,” he added.

Ministry of Maritime Affairs tabled a summary for awarding contract regarding infrastructure facilities, sewerage system and water supply system in Gulshan-e-Benazir Township Scheme (GBTS) at Port Qasim Authority, Karachi. The ECC approved the projects in conformity with the PQA Act-1973, in principle, and directed Ministry of Maritime Affairs to settle the modalities for the award of contracts as per rules. The summaries related to the Textile and Apparel Policy (2020-25) and National Freight and Logistics Policy (NFLP) were deferred to next ECC for comprehensive consultation process with key stakeholders.

The ECC has approved the following Technical Supplementary Grants (TSG) during the meeting including Rs. 30 million for the Ministry of Defence for the purchase of spare parts for helicopters for the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). It has also approved TSG worth of Rs. 400.020 million for the Ministry of Law and Justice to establish additional courts in compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court. The ECC has approved TSG Rs. 2.268 billion for the Higher Education Commission for completion of various Disbursement linked Indicators (DLIs) under the IDA credit facility.

Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Minister for Privatization Mohammad Mian Soomro, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, SAPM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, SAPM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam participated in the meeting. Governor State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir also participated through video link.

       Pakistan shouldn’t rely on China for agriculture technological transfer:           fawad Yousafzad

ISLAMABAD, Jan 7, 2021: Parliamentary Committee on CPEC Chairman has Wednesday said that Pakistan needs not to rely on China for technological transfer rather boost its capacity building and enhance the areas of research to encourage indigenous technological innovations and modernize its agriculture sector. 29th meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was held in National Agriculture Research Centre, under the Chairmanship of MNA Sher Ali Arbab. Committee chairman was briefed by PARC Chairman regarding 10 years development targets under CPEC.

The Committee was briefed by Ministry of National Food Security & Research Secretary and, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council Chairman regarding Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and other projects related to the agriculture sector. The PARC Chairman while sharing 10 years development targets under CPEC, briefed the Committee that PARC aims to change Pakistan from cotton import country to cotton export country and save foreign exchange of $1.5 billion.

Besides renovation of existing orchards, the introduction of new varieties, reducing post-harvest losses, improving value chain and development of rural industries are major proposed interventions. The Committee also paid a visit to the exhibition at National Agriculture Research Centre where a comprehensive briefing was given to the Committee by concerned regarding Agrotech Company, aquaculture and fisheries program, Honeybee Research Institute, alternative energy use in agriculture and vegetable and fruit crops cultivation processes.

“We need to strengthen this diminishing sector under CPEC framework,” The committee Chairman remarked.  It is therefore imperative that Pakistan needs not to rely on China for technological transfer rather boost its capacity building and enhance the areas of research to encourage indigenous technological innovations and modernize its agriculture sector. 

The Committee observed that the research which is being generated by PARC to enhance agricultural production needs to be collaborated with Ministry of Commerce and other concerned to check economic viability of that agricultural commodities so that Pakistan’s vast agriculture potential could be utilized in enhancing agricultural exports. Moreover, it was noted that China imports meat worth $48 billion from other countries.

Taking Pakistan’s huge potential in livestock and other food processing items into account, there is an exigency of meeting international food standards and initiate negotiations with China to remove anomalies and enhance Pakistan’s exports in these areas. This is how Pakistan’s engagement with China can be made more prolific and constructive under CPEC framework.

The Committee remarked that farmers are the major stakeholders of the agriculture sector. It is concerning that seeds of various crops are not being provided to farmers timely. Some members of the parliamentary committee also pointed toward the inequitable distribution of seeds The members also alleged that the seeds were available on the private stores instead of the NARC centres.

However, the allegation was rejected by the official of NARC, saying that the member was talking about the new variety of Garlic seed G1. The new variety was developed by the PARC within three years and was not sold to anyone. They have planted the new seeds in 25 acres area within PARC and will be available for next years. The stores who were selling Garlic seeds saying as G1 was lying. They were selling some other Garlic seed as G1 variety, the official added.

The committee said that bottlenecks in this regard need to be removed to ensure fair and timely distribution of crops seeds to the farmers so that by resolving farmers’ issues agricultural productivity could be enhanced and agriculture sector could be made more beneficial for these important stakeholders. In the light of these issues, Hon.

Chairman remarked that selected group of farmers from all provinces and regions would be invited to convey their issues to PARC so that their problems could be resolved and recommended to Members to send the list of issues which they believe are important to be addressed so that Committee may take up those issues with PARC and resolve them accordingly. 

The Committee further added that vast potential of the agriculture sector if exploited prudently and effectively will vehemently alter the socio-economic landscape of our country, bring lasting economic benefits and strengthen the process of industrialization under CPEC framework. Therefore more focused and integrated efforts are required to revive the agriculture sector and further utilize its potential for ensuring inclusive economic growth and development.

Members of Parliamentary Committee on CPEC have raised the issue of inequitable distribution of seeds by Pakistan Agricultural Research Centre (PARC) saying that the new variety of seeds were missing from the NARC Centres but were available in private stores. Chairman Parliamentary Committee on CPEC, after the briefing, emphasized that we must first address the existing agricultural infrastructure in Pakistan and its shortcomings so that in the light of modern agricultural knowledge and experience comprehensive and sustainable strategies can be formulated and solutions to the shortcomings in agriculture can be found on a modern scientific basis.

The meeting was attended by Noor Alam Khan, MNA Sadaqat Ali Khan Abbasi, Umer Aslam Khan, Nafeesa Inayatullah Khan Khattak, Ghous Bux Khan Mahar, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Mehnaz Akber Aziz, Raza Rabani Khar, and Senator Mir Kabir Ahmed Muhammad Shahi.

World Ag Expo Moves Online For 2021: Natalina Sents

CALIFORNIA, Jan 6, 2021:For the first time, the 2021 World Ag Expo will be an online event rather than the in-person trade show usually held in Tulare, California. “A digital show is not a replacement for a live event like World Ag Expo,” says Jerry Sinift, International Agri-Center CEO. “But the ag industry has never stopped working, and neither will we. Ag is essential and so is our job as a trade show to bring buyers and sellers together. We’re just going to do it a little bit differently in 2021.”

Instead of limiting the event to the original show dates of February 9-11, the expo organizers have planned a unique yearlong approach. “Each exhibitor has a microsite within the show to share information and hold live chats, along with many other options. These can be changed during the year. As organizers, we will have online seminars, the Top-10 New Products Contest, and more new content being released throughout the year,” explains Jennifer Fawkes, International Agri-Center marketing manager.

World Ag Expo Online will kick off February 9-11, 2021 – the original show dates. Live events and seminars will be scheduled for 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. PST each day, but content will be available on-demand at no charge to attendees around the clock. Seminars will be presented online by exhibitors, California State University – Fresno, Irrigation Association, Center for International Trade Development, and many more. The schedule will be finalized in January and will be available for attendees to begin planning their viewing schedule.

Shunned Pakistani Fishermen Abandoning Profession : Sulman Ali

ISLAMABAD, Jan 6, 2021:One of the most frequently aired news in both Pakistan and India media is the arrest of fishermen of both countries, by the security forces of other state. Every other day, news channels report that either Pakistan or India has arrested the fishermen for ‘crossing the border’. It has become so common that newspapers and channels report it like regular news, but no reaction is observed over this news; from public, civil society or from the authorities. Now, the fishermen in Pakistan are going to face another predicament in the name of development.

In September, the twin islands of Dingi and Bundal, located at the mouth of Korangi Creek in Karachi were taken over by the federal government. The government took over this land under a presidential ordinance. According to the ruling party, the government is planning to develop a city which will ‘surpass Dubai’. “The mega project worth $50 billion will create 150,000 jobs,” Sindh Governor Imran Ismail said.

on the other hand, Sindh government has rejected the federal government’s takeover of the islands. The provincial government’s information minister Nasir Hussain Shah said that Islamabad hasn’t shared the development project plans with them. “Don’t think of these islands as mere tracts of land, we are linked to them by culture, custom and heritage,” he maintained.

There is political tussle ongoing between the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), ruling the centre and Sindh respectively. However, in this scenario the fishermen might be the collateral damage. According to Sindh Fisheries Department 600,000 people in Sindh are linked to this profession. Furthermore, the coastal waters of Sindh are home of 40 species of fish and shellfish and 15 species of shrimps, which make up 60% of Pakistan’s fisheries export.

Additionally, these islands are one of the oldest fishing points. Fishermen have organized an annual festival on these lands for centuries. One of the organizers and fishermen said that they won’t leave their ancestral place. “[They are] occupying the livelihood of fishermen but also a hope for living for them,” he said. Another fisherman said that military guards apprehended him recently, when he tried to go to Dingi Island. “They made me ‘murgha’ [stress position] and if we did not do it they said they would hit us with batons,” he added.

As per these fishermen, the government authorities and security forces have taken three major points of fishing from them in last two decades. Commenting on the development, Environmentalist Arif Hassan said: “The islands are part of a delicate ecosystem. Mangrove marshes are nurseries for fish. They are home to migratory birds and also a buffer between the city and the ocean. This buffer has saved Karachi city during many cyclones.”

Being arrested remains a constant threat for these fishermen. According to an exchanged list in July 2020, India has arrested 97 fishermen, while Pakistan apprehended 270 Indian fishermen. This underlines the gravity of the menace. In November this year, India released 20 Pakistani fishermen and the scenes of their reuniting were emotional. Some of them were kept in jails for two years, while some spent five years in the Indian jails. 

As per reports, some of the minors didn’t recognize their fathers. Shah Alam, a fisherman, told media that his son remained in jail for five years. “Now that my son is back, I will make sure that such a situation never arises again. He has to find another means of earning besides fishing,” he said. The troubles of these fishermen seem not to end, as on one side there major fishing points are being snatched away by own government, while on the other hand, they have a constant fear of being arrest by the neighboring country.

Essentially, they are being sandwiched from both sides-internally and externally. Thousands of people are linked to this profession, but such policies and circumstances are forcing them to seek new works for their young generations because they don’t want their children to be harassed, alienated and apprehended.

Wheat Cultivation Targets in Punjab

ISLAMABAD, Jan 4, 2021(APP): Wheat sowing during current cultivation drive had witnessed significant momentum as crop cultivation targets in Punjab was surpassed by 101.90 % as compared the sowing of same period of last year. Meanwhile, 94 percent area in Sindh which was the second largest grain producing province was achieved during Rabi 2020-21. The crop sowing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan were achieved 80 percent and 84.55 percent respectively.

Overall, wheat sowing during current Rabi Season has completed over 9 million hectares as against the set targets of 9.210 million hectares to tackle with the domestic staple food requirements as well as for exporting. Crop cultivation during current season witnessed encouraging trend as crop sowing completed over 97.72 percent of the fixed area during Rabi 2020-21, Food Security Commissioner in Ministry of National Food Security and Research Dr Imtiaz Ahmed Gopang said.

Talking to APP he said that momentum in wheat cultivation was attributed with favorable weather conditions, availability of inputs including seeds, fertilizers and agriculture credit. He further informed that timely interventions by the government like increase in minimum support price for growers and different incentives under Rabi Package were the other factor that resulted in growth in crop cultivation. Food Security Commissioner further informed that according the estimation of Provincial Crop Reporting Services, wheat cultivation had been completed over 9.00 million hectares across crop producing areas in the country as against the set targets of 9.210 million hectares.

He said it was expected that sowing targets of grains for current crop season would be achieved, which help in getting maximum out put to fulfill the domestic requirements as well as for producing exportable surplus during the season. Meanwhile, wheat sowing in Punjab had witnessed about 2.60 percent increase as compared the sowing of last year as wheat had been grown over 6.684 million hectares against the set targets of 6.560 million hectares, he added. In Sindh, he said that crop production targets had been achieved by 94 percent as sowing completed on 1.131 million hectares against the fixed targets of 1.200 million hectares.

Wheat cultivation in Sindh during Rabi Season witnessed about 5 percent growth as compared the sowing of last season, he added. According the estimates grains sowing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan also grew by 1 percent respectively as grain cultivation witnessed significant growth in rain fed areas of both provinces, he added. The wheat sowing has been completed over 80 percent of KP and 80.55 percent of Balochistan provinces, adding that 0.720 million hectares put under wheat cultivation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against the set targets of 0.900 million hectares and 0.465 million hectares in Balochistan as compared the fixed target of 0.550 million hectares during the season, he added.

It may be recalled that Federal Committee on Agriculture had set wheat cultivation targets at 9.210 million hectares during crop season 2020-21 in order to fulfill the domestic requirements as well as for exporting.

 

2020 and Agriculture in Pakistan :Naeem Abbas Abid

ISLAMABAD, Jan 3, 2021: According to the Economic Survey 2019-2020, agriculture contributed about 19.3 percent to annual GDP and is by far the largest sector to absorb most labour directly and indirectly. It does not only absorb labour, but this sector is also the largest raw material provider to many industries. However, the question is how this sector performed in 2020—because it was the one of the most challenging years for almost every industry.

2020 was one of the worst years in Pakistan’s history vis-a-vis cotton crops. According to the State Bank of Pakistan report, FY20’s cotton output fell to 9.1 million bales against 9.8 million bales in FY19 despite a 6.5 percent increase in the area under cultivation. In 2011, Cotton Vision 2015 was launched, aiming to reach a target of 20 million bales in 2015 from 10.6 million bales in 2011. It has been ten years, and instead of achieving the mark in 2015, in 2020, we are even below than where we were in 2011. This negative growth shows how serious we are about our long term visions.

This negative growth could result from many factors, particularly weather change over the last ten years, decrease in the cotton-growing area, and yield per acre. Our cotton varieties are no more resistant to weather change, which translates to more pest attacks and high input costs, resulting in low yields and fewer profits, respectively. All these factors eventually force farmers to switch to other profitable crops like sugarcane etc. This horrible situation of cotton has not only just affected farmers, but it also has a major impact on the textile industry. It forces the textile sector to import costly raw material. This year, the total import bill for the textile sector is $11.262 billion.

Wheat is one of the primary crops in Pakistan. It accounts for 8.9 percent value addition in agriculture and 1.6 percent of the total GDP of Pakistan. Although our government officials claim to be self-reliant when it comes to wheat, however, we still had to face wheat shortages in 2020. In the last five months, we have imported over 2 million tons of wheat out of a target of 3 million tons. Not to forget, we imported this wheat at a much higher rate (approximately Rs2500/40kg) as compared to what we paid to our farmers (Rs1350/40kg) for their wheat production.

The minimum support price has been increased this year to Rs. 1600/40kg to incentivise farmers to grow more wheat. All four provinces have announced different MSP for 2021, despite the fact that there is not much difference in production costs across different regions unless it is being grown in rain-fed areas. This price difference could lead to wheat hoarding and smuggling into high wheat price provinces. The increase in MSP is an excellent decision to accommodate the increase in production cost but is this the real long-term solution? There is a need to focus on developing high yield and rust-resistant wheat varieties, which is one of the main reasons behind yield decline.

Paddy and sugarcane also have their ups and downs in 2020. The total acreage for sugarcane production was less this year than last year, resulting in a better price for farmers. Also, reforms have been brought in the purchasing process of sugarcane, which have benefited farmers greatly. In different discussions, I have observed that farmers are pushing other farmers to maintain the same acreage or even decrease the total acreage for next year to fetch better prices. As far as paddy is concerned, the price went down a lot at the beginning of the season, which impacted farmers’ financial position to a greater degree.

The price drop’s primary factor was the international market’s uncertainty because of logistics and transportation challenges due to COVID-19. The rice exporters were not ready to take risks, and therefore, they hedged their risk by buying at a low price. The paddy prices have exhibited an upward trend in December, but it will benefit the stockiest or aarthis (commission agent/merchant) who bought the paddy at a low price from farmers. The price increase isn’t of much use to farmers at this stage.

In 2020, one other challenge faced by the Pakistani agriculture community was locust attacks. In Pakistan, insects first affected the crops in rural Sindh, where malnutrition is already common, and farmers are in debt. The irony is that instead of taking any steps to control the locust swarms, the local government and federal government kept arguing who was responsible for controlling the spread.

When locust swarms spread across the country, the government agencies decided to take action, but it was too little too late. Moreover, the Pakistani government used expired pesticides, which, instead of inhibiting locust growth, aggravated the situation. As usual, farmers took measures on their own, and they used drums, whistles, and aerial firing to disperse locusts.

Last but not least, every agent across the agricultural value chain was the victim of the devastating impact of COVID-19. The main problem was the movement of the food from food basket markets to where it was needed. The pandemic disturbed the food market equilibrium by disrupting the supply chain. It affected both the supply side and the demand side. On the supply side, transportation restrictions, shortage of labour, and farmers’ limited access to the market to either get inputs or sell their produce shifted paradigms in agricultural production.

The pandemic mainly hit fruit and vegetable growers and dairy farmers. In the first phase of the pandemic, farm gate milk prices dropped down by 15 percent, which hit the dairy farmers struggling with high production costs and less yield per animal. Because of lockdown and movement restrictions, many dairy farmers and fresh produce growers had no choice but to dump their milk or produce in canals and dumpsites. On the positive side, farmers supported their local communities by distributing food and providing working opportunities to the labour who returned from cities on their farms.

Moving on, it won’t be fair to list all the challenges and problems the agriculture sector, mainly farmers, have encountered in 2020 in just one article. I think it’s time to learn from our past mistakes and move on to what we can do in 2021 to improve and uplift this sector. We can’t change this sector’s fate overnight, but one step in the right direction can go a long way. In my opinion, we can start by reviewing our current policies and their impact in the long term. Our policies should not just look at how much economic benefit we would have by implementing such policies, but we should also look at the other side of this story.

One observation could be that have we sought farmers’ opinions before making such policies because they are key stakeholders? I think this should be a priority when making policies. In the past, we have observed that there is almost minimal input from the farmers’ side, resulting in farmers’ frustrations and protests against the policymakers.

Otherwise, we might have to face the same situation as our neighbor, India, is facing right now. The Indian government announced farm bills without taking farmers into confidence, and as we know, the farmer’s reaction didn’t turn out as the Indian government expected. Other noteworthy points while making any policy are considering the climate change impact, global food consumption, and changing global trade patterns.

One other factor which needs serious attention in 2021 is to bridge a gap between research institutes and the farmers’ community. Currently, research institutes are working in an isolated zone. There would be hardly anyone in the farmer community who would know what new varieties of different crops our research institutes are producing and how they can benefit farmers. This wide communication gap can be narrowed down by using our Agriculture Extension force.

In developed nations, agriculture extension departments play a significant role in implementing research activities. For example, in the USA, extension agents are part of agriculture universities, not part of the agriculture ministry. Extension agents are closely in touch with farmers; they observe what’s going on the ground. They collect data and ultimately convey their observations to research faculty in agriculture universities, which helps universities get their research in the right direction. However, in Pakistan, it’s a totally different scenario.

Finally, what else could be done in 2021 is to engage the private sector in the agriculture sector to fill the gaps in the value chain. The value chain is currently robust from crops sowing to crop harvesting, but once the crop is harvested, the value chain starts getting weaker. At this point, there is a strong need for private sector involvement. The private sector should build storage facilities and processing plants at a micro-level. Big conglomerates already have set up processing plants, but how much are they benefiting farmers.

I would say very little because conglomerates operate in an oligopoly market. Just look at the sugar industry; only six-seven big players have all sugar mills and control the sugar industry. There is a need to introduce more players in the market to encourage perfect competition. To uplift the agriculture sector, there is a strong need for processing plants at the village, town, or maybe district level. Being the sector engaging the largest workforce and providing raw material to most manufacturing sectors, more competition and development at a small level will contribute to poverty alleviation and uplift the socioeconomic structure of a significant segment of the population.

Seed Firms Seek Role in Agric Committee

LAHORE, Jan 2, 2021: Seed manufacturing companies along with farmers should have representation in the agricultural reforms committee in an effort to resolve the longstanding issues faced by the sector, said the Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP). Association members appealed to the federal government not to amend seed enforcement laws and regulations in order to ensure a level playing field for all companies.

“Major issue in this sector is cottonseed and SAP has a comprehensive business plan to revive this most important crop of Pakistan,” stressed Association President Chaudhry Asif Ali and members Salman Mahmood Khan and Dr Abdul Nasir Kasi while talking to the Agriculture Journalists Association of Pakistan. Successive governments did talk about enhancing cottonseed output but never provided resources or the required push, they added.

They emphasised that they had a solution to support the declining cotton crop in Pakistan and all the stakeholders should be taken on board in that regard whether they were farmers, seed companies, textile millers or ginning factories. Association members were of the view that educating cotton farmers was a must while input of ginners should also be taken into consideration, which was the most neglected stakeholder of the cotton value chain.

Shedding light on the government’s plan of allowing provinces to apply seed enforcement laws, the association leadership alleged that certain companies were behind the move, which had been lobbying for the past six years. These companies did not even have 1% share in cottonseed production but they were considered very influential at the provincial level, they added.

The association president said two basic stakeholders, which included the growers and the seed body, had opposed the government’s move while different chambers and organisations representing the growers also raised their voice against the proposal. Ali said they were against the decision because seed was a federal subject in the old seed law and even in the amended seed Act enforced in 2015.

He was of the view that the agriculture extension departments of provincial governments did not have the required capacity as their basic task was to ensure transfer of new technology to the growers besides forewarning of any pest attack. He said the categorisation of companies, which was being proposed, was not enforced anywhere in the world.

“Punjab is opposing this move because 90% of seeds of all crops are being produced in the province and these companies may find it tough to sell their seeds in other provinces after the new regulations,” he lamented. Furthermore, he suggested that the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department could handle seed production and supply in all provinces of the country. “If they do not have the required infrastructure or manpower, then these prerequisites should be provided to them,” he stressed and added that there should not be two regulators for a single business.

China Can Help Pakistan Develop Bee Products Sector

BEIJING, Dec 27, 2020:Billion Tree Honey initiative launched by PM Imran Khan will be a workable project to alleviate poverty and develop the bee products sector, said China Bee Products Association (CBPA) Chairman Yang Rong.“It will lead to broad prospects of Pak-China cooperation in this field,” he added.Rich natural and human resources have equipped Pakistan with favourable conditions to develop the bee products industry. Most of Pakistan’s land is subtropical, which provides a warm climate for vegetating nectariferous plants.

“Meanwhile, mature agriculture and diverse fruit plantation also lay a foundation for industrial development,” Yang analysed.He said, “Development of the bee products sector, a typical labour-intensive industry, will effectively alleviate local poverty in Pakistan. This method has made fruitful achievements in China.” “A lot of Chinese local governments have chosen developing apiculture since 2013 and successfully solved poverty, even led the regions to prosperity. Considering the problems of employment and rural revitalisation, the mature experiences of China are also suitable for Pakistan.”

The apiculture in Pakistan is facing challenges of pests and obsolete technology, which can be solved under Pak-China cooperation. “Bee mite has been reckoned as one of the biggest menaces of Pakistani agriculture. From 1908 to 1979, Pakistan tried to import bees and develop apiculture 17 times, but all of those attempts failed due to bee mite.” However, he added, “Nowadays, through scientific breeding, drug treatment, and the most advanced physical treatment, Chinese beekeepers have controlled it very well and at a world leading level. We can share all of those techniques with Pakistan to improve its apiculture.”

He said that under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor agriculture cooperation, both countries can share experiences and techniques, such as scale development of apiculture, vegetating nectariferous plants, scientific payoffs, bee species breeding among others. Yang emphasised that China, as the largest bee products producer and consumer in the world, has a full range of mature solutions to develop apiculture. “Pakistan can import from China techniques and production modes, meanwhile export bee products to the Chinese market where bee products including honey, bee milk, bee wax, and especially propolis are in great demands.

Argentina’s Farmers Go ‘Carbon Neutral’ to Retain Agriculture Markets

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 25, 2020:Soy and cereal producers from Argentina want to neutralise production chains’ carbon footprints through new Carbon Neutral Programme  are facing an important change for the entire Argentine productive sector. The challenge now is that at the end of an agricultural season we not only ask ourselves ‘How did your soybeans do?’ but also, ‘How did this year go with your carbon balance?

This is how Eduardo Serantes, representative of South American agribusiness organisation the Group of Southern Producing Countries (GPS), introduced the new Argentine Carbon Neutral Programme for agriculture, an ambitious private sector initiative that he hopes will give Argentina an advantage in international markets.

The Argentine carbon neutral agriculture programme aims to export food, beverages and bioenergies that will reduce and compensate for the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted during their life cycle.It is not about selling an additional value, but about being on par with the new global demands. Created by associations of Argentina’s agricultural producers, the carbon neutral programme calculates the carbon footprint of each sector, and certifies the ‘carbon balance’ of their exports.

“There is a new productive paradigm that we have to start considering if we want to sell more,” said Sabine Papendieck, a business consultant. “Public and private standards have an impact on market access, our competitiveness, our production costs and the perception that consumers and marketing chains have.”

Papendieck acknowledged that rather than winning new markets, the programme designed to help Argentina keep its market share “Ten years ago, [environmental standards] were a plus, but today it’s about not losing markets. They are a condition of access demanded by European markets, but which is also beginning to be seen in countries like China,” she said. Argentina finds itself in competition with neighbouring countries with an agricultural production such as Uruguay and Mexico, whose farmers have begun to adhere to stricter conditions on carbon emissions in the production chain.

José Martins, president of the Buenos Aires Cereal Exchange, agreed: “It’s not about selling an additional value, but about being on par with the new global demands for environmental certification.” Although participation in the programme is voluntary, Martins is optimistic about the challenge its signatories are setting themselves. “We managed to align the entire agribusiness chain and all the country’s exchanges in pursuit of one aim: to work to look after the environment, an issue that we are very worried about,” he told Diálogo Chino.

A producer can generate greater efficiency through investment in clean technology, implementing direct compensation for its emissions via activities such as afforesting, or changing land use. Countries can also buy bonds that compensate for the carbon emitted. For Costa, it is an opportunity for companies. “We believe that there are clear benefits because consumer demand points towards this,” he said.

Companies that reduce their emissions can begin to be included in investment banks’ lists of green companies and receive financing at different rates, Costa said. “It’s not just about entering an international market, but also about productive and financial efficiency.” Be it the countries of the EU, the US or China, entrepreneurs must increasingly take into account environmental responsibility as a factor in the production, transport, storage and distribution chain of their products.

“Consumers in the vast majority of buyer countries are increasingly concerned about environmental issues and requests for environmental certifications are growing,” said Costa. Even when developed countries reduce their territorial emissions, the import of incorporated carbon partially counteracts this Miguel Ángel Cinquantini, coordinator of the Corporate Carbon Footprint Program of the Argentine Network of Municipalities against Climate Change (RAMCC), said: “Climate change is very present in consumers because it is a pressing problem.”

In China, many new consumers who care about the environmental impacts of the products they buy have emerged. Ernesto Fernández Taboada, executive director of the Argentine-Chinese Chamber of Production, Industry and Commerce, told Diálogo Chino: “More than half of the Chinese population is already urban, the middle class grew and has a better quality of life. That allows them to try new products and broaden their diet. Those new consumers – young people – have a preference for organic products.”

For Fernández Taboada, products that are certified carbon neutral will soon be a reality for many producers. “The evolution of international markets, especially the Chinese one, is staggering.” According to the latest national inventory of greenhouse gases, agriculture and livestock (along with forestry and other land uses) are responsible for about 40% of Argentina’s greenhouse gas emissions. A reduction in emissions from these activities, as proposed by the programme, would help meet Argentina’s climate change mitigation objectives.

Likewise, countries that buy food and raw materials seek to reduce their “imported emissions”. The recent UN Environment Program’s Emissions Gap report noted: “The net flow of carbon incorporated goes from developing to developed countries. Even when developed countries reduce their territorial emissions, the import of incorporated carbon partially counteracts this effect”.

For Cinquantini, the 2015 Paris Agreement clarified that the private sector has a strong role in tackling climate change and the task can’t be left to national, local and provincial governments. 177 companies made pledges to reduce their emissions at the COP25 climate summit. A total of 177 companies have pledged at COP25 climate summit to set ambitious emissions reduction targets to help limit the effects of climate change. The companies represent over 5.8 million employees, spanning 36 sectors and with headquarters in 36 countries.

Jorge Segura Mora, president of Planeta Carbon Neutral, a consultancy firm that grants environmental certificates to companies in Latin America, praised the initiative in Argentina: “In a world increasingly concerned about the future of the planet, we hope this programme will make Argentine products more attractive internationally.” Argentina’s government has also praised the programme. Carlos Gentile, former secretary of climate change and sustainable development, said: “These are the kind of initiatives that the private sector has to promote. It is the way to show an x-ray of what the sector is and isn’t in terms of emissions.”

Global Pesticide Poisonings Amount To 385m Cases Each Year, PANStudy Reveals

CALIFORNIA, Dec 21, 2020: About 385 million cases of acute pesticide poisonings occur each year worldwide, causing around 11,000 deaths. This is the sad finding of a study published on December 7th in the peer-reviewed journal “BMC Public Health”. According to the study, unintentional, acute pesticide poisonings on farms across the globe have risen dramatically since the last global assessment 30 years ago. The systematic review was commissioned by Pesticide Action Network (PAN), a network of over 600 participating non-governmental organizations, institutions and individuals in over 90 countries working to replace the use of hazardous pesticides.

“These findings underscore the urgency of reducing and eliminating the use of highly hazardous pesticides,” says Kristin Schafer, coordinator of PAN International. “These pesticides are causing the unacceptable poisoning of those who produce our food, but also chronic health effects such as cancer and ecological impacts such as the collapse of biodiversity. Time for global action is long overdue.”

In 1990, a task force of the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that about one million unintentional pesticide poisonings occur annually, leading to approximately 20,000 deaths. The figures were calculated using data from the 1980s. It was further estimated in 1990 that there were 25 million cases of mild intoxications each year, the bulk of which were not recorded, as most farmers did not seek medical attention.

Those outdated figures are still pervasive in literature today due to the lack of updated global estimates. The new study now closes this gap. The authors carried out a systematic review of the scientific literature published between 2006 and 2018, selecting 157 papers after assessing a total of 824 articles for eligibility. They extracted a total number of 741,429 unintentional pesticide poisonings from the publications, including 7,508 fatalities. Most studies had a focus on occupational poisoning in farmers and agricultural workers.

In addition, mortality data from the WHO cause-of-death database was used. Thus, the study covers a total of 141 countries. Then the researchers performed country-wise synopses and estimated the annual numbers of national unintentional, acute pesticide poisonings (UAPP). Finally, the total number of UAPP was estimated based on national figures and population data for regions defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The researchers arrived at an estimated 385.5 million pesticide poisonings each year, resulting in 10,881 fatalities. This means that about 44% of the global population working on farms – 860 million farmers and agricultural workers – are poisoned every year. The study found that the greatest number of non-fatal poisoning cases occurred in southern Asia, followed by Southeast Asia and East Africa.

The highest single national incidence was found in Burkina Faso, where nearly 84% of farmers and farm workers experience unintentional acute pesticide poisonings each year. The prevalence is also very high in Pakistan and Kuwait with around 82% respectively. The rate was also quite high in India with 62%. The lowest rate was found in the United States where the incidence of yearly non-fatal UAPP among the farming population is only at 0.05%. Nearly 60% of all fatalities occur in India, indicating serious problems with pesticide use, according to the researchers.

The estimated number of global non-fatal unintended pesticide poisonings in the current study is significantly higher than in previous estimates from the 1990s. “It’s shocking and shameful that this problem has gotten worse rather than better over the past 30 years,” said Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director of PAN Asia Pacific. According to the authors, this is in part because the current study covers a greater number of countries, and also because pesticide use increased by almost 81% between 1990 and 2017.

In South America, the increase in the same period was even at 484% and there was a 97% increase in Asia, compared to a decrease in Europe of 3%, according to data from FAOSTAT. “So, many more farmers and workers are likely to be exposed to pesticides now globally, or more exposed through more frequent use,” the authors write. However, the researchers also assume that the true figures of pesticide poisoning and fatalities could be much higher because underreporting remains a huge problem. Many countries lack a central reporting systems or there is not a mandatory legal duty to report incidents.

People suffering from acute pesticide poisoning may also not seek medical care for various reasons, such as access to transportation or lack of medical facilities or financial capacity. “We realize there are limitations in the data on pesticide poisonings,” notes Javier Souza, PAN Latin America’s coordinator. “But this study clearly shows this as a serious, global problem that warrants immediate action.

Highly hazardous pesticides must be phased out by 2030 to meet global Sustainable Development Goals, and we must shift to healthier and more resilient systems like agroecology.” The study did not cover pesticide poisoning suicides but it points to a recent systematic review of data on suicides from 2006-2015, which found that pesticides accounted for 14-20% of global suicides leading to 110,000-168,000 deaths annually during the period 2010-2014.

 Agricultural Problems in Pakistan: Bisma Abdul Latif

KARACHI, Dec 18, 2020: About 70 percent of Pakistan’s population is living in rural areas and is directly involved in agricultural activities. The major crops of Pakistan are wheat, rice, maize, cotton and sugar cane. These major crops contributed 7.7 percent last year against the set target of 4.5 percent. Though the agricultural sector is facing problems in Pakistan yet the major chunk of money comes from this sector. 

No mechanism has been adopted to eradicate the issue of soil erosion and even after harvesting, nothing is done to improve or restore the soil energy. Therefore, the fertility of soil is decreasing day by day. Water wastage is also very high in our country. The archaic method of flood irrigation is still in practice, which wastes almost 50 to 60 percent of water. A new irrigation system called drip irrigation system has been introduced in many parts of the world.

This not only saves water but also gives proper quantity of water according to the needs of plants. Thirdly, owing to old methods of cultivation and harvesting, Pakistan has low per acre yield, whereas Nepal, India and Bangladesh are using modern scientific methods to increase their yield. Fourthly, the small farmers are increasing in our country as the lands are dividing generation by generation. So, there are large number of farmers who own only 4 acres of land.

These small farmers do not get credit facilities to purchase seeds, pesticides, fertilisers etc. Additionally, a large area of land is owned by feudal and the farmers who work on their lands, are just tenants. Fifthly, water logging and salinity is increasing day by day. No effective measures have been taken to curb it. As the storage capacity of the dams is decreasing so the water availability per acre is also decreasing. 

More dams should be constructed on Indus, Jehlum and Chenab rivers. This will enhance the storage capacity of water and reduce the per acre cost of all the crops. This step will also reduce the salinity chances of the lands as less tube well water will be flooded to the lands which cause salinity. 

National Institutes List

Federal Institutions

      - Central Cotton Research Institute, Sakrand, Sindh
      - Cotton Research Station, Mirpur Khas, Sindh
      - Cotton Research Station, Ghotki, Sindth
      - Cotton Research Station, Bahawalpur, Punjab


      - Cotton Research Station, Sahiwal, Punjab
      - Cotton Research Station, Sibi/Quetta, Balochistan


      - National Tea Research Institute, Mansehra
      - Mountain Agricultural Research Centre (MARC), Juglote, Gilgit
      - National Sugar Crops Research Institute, Thatta
      - Arid Zone Research Center, Quetta
      - Arid Zone Research Institute, Bahawalpur
      - Arid Zone Research Institute, Dera Ismail Khan
      - Arid Zone Research Institute, Umerkot
      - National Agricultural Research Centre, Islamabad

Institutions, Govt. of Punjab

    • Department of Botany, University of the Punjab , Lahore
    • Department of Botany, University of Govt. College, Lahore
    • Department of Botany, University of Govt. College, Faisalabad
    • Department of Botany, Bahaudin Zakria University , Multan
    • Department of Botany, Islamia University , Bahawalpur
    • Cholistan Institute of Desert Studies, Islamia University , Bahawalpur
    • Department of Botany, University of Agriculture (UAF), Faisalabad
    • Center of Agricultural Biotechnology & Biochemistry, UAF, Faisalabad
    • Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, UAF, Faisalabad
    • Department of Botany, PMAS Arid Agriculture University , Rawalpindi
    • Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, PMAS Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi.
    • Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (AARI), Faisalabad
    • - Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute, AARI, Faisalabad
      - Wheat Research Institute, AARI, Faisalabad
      - Sugarcane Research Institute, AARI, Faisalabad
      - Vegetables Research Institute, AARI, Faisalabad
      - Cotton Research Institute, AARI, Faisalabad
      • Cotton Research Station, RahimYar Khan
      • Cotton Research Station, Vehari
      • Cotton Research Station, Multan
      • Cotton Research Station, Sahiwal
      - Horticultural Research Institute, AARI, Faisalabad
      • Horticultural Research Station, Bahawalpur
      • Dates Research Station, Jhang
      • Dates Research Institute, Dera Ghazi Khan
      • Horticultural Research Station, Murree
      • Orange Research Station, Sargodha
      • Citrus Research Station, Sahiwal
      • Mango Research Station, Shuja Abad
      • Horticultural Research Station, Soan Valley, Nowshera
      - Oilseeds Research Institute, AARI, Faisalabad
      • Jojoba Research Station, Bahawalpur
      • Oilseed Research Station, Khanpur
      - Pulses Research Institute, AARI, Faisalabad
      • Pulses Research Station, Sialkot
      - Barani Agricultural Research Institute, Chakwal
      • Wheat Research Station, Rawalpindi
      • Barani Agricultural Research Station, Fateh Jang
      • Gram Breeding Research Sub-station, Kalur Kot
      • Groundnut Research Station, Attock
      - Maize & Millet Research Institute, Yousaf Wala
      • Govt. Maize Seed Farm, Iqbalnagar, Sahiwal
      • Maize Breeding Research Sub Station
      • Millet Research Station, Rawalpindi
      • Sorghum Research Sub-station, Dera Ghazi Khan
      • Maize Research Station, Faisalabad
      - Potato Research Institute, AARI, Faisalabad
      • Potato Research Station, Sialkot
      - Regional Agricultural Research Institute, Bahawalpur
      - Rice Research Institute, Kala Shah Kaku, Lahore
      - Fodder Research Institute, Sargodha
      - Soil Salinity Research Institute, Pindi Bhattian
      - Arid Zone Research Institute, Bhakkar
    - Tobacco Research Station, Sahiwal

Institutions, Govt. of Sindh

    • Department of Botany, KU, Karachi
    • Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, University of Agriculture, Tandojam
    • Department of Botany, Shah Latif University, Khairpur
    • Agricultural Research Institute, Tandojam
    • - Legumes Research Programme, ARI, Tandojam
      - Maize, Sorghum & Millet Research Programme, ARI, Tandojam
      - Oilseeds Research Programme, ARI, Tandojam
      - Sugarcane Research Programme, ARI, Tandojam
      - Vegetables Research Programme, ARI, Tandojam
      - Wheat Research Programme, ARI, Tandojam
      - Horticultural Research Programme, ARI, Tandojam
      - Quaid-e-Awam Agricultural Research Institute, Larkana
      - Rice Research Institute, Dokri
      - Wheat Research Institute, Sakrand
      - Sindh Horticultural Research Institute, Mirpur Khas
      - Sindh Horticultural Research Station, Khairpur
      - Cotton Research Station, Tandojam
      - Cotton Research Station, Mirpur Khas
    - Cotton Research Station, Ghotki

Institutions, Govt. of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK)

    • Department of Botany, University Peshawar
    • Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Agricultural University, Peshawar
    • Department of Botany, Hazara University, Mansehra
    • Agricultural Research Institute (ARI), Tarnab, Peshawar
    • - Cereal Research Programme, ARI, Tarnab, Peshawar
      - Legumes Research Programme, ARI, Tarnab, Peshawar
      - Oilseeds Research Programme, ARI, Tarnab, Peshawar
      - Sugarcane Research Programme, ARI, Tarnab, Peshawar
      - Vegetables Research Programme, ARI, Tarnab, Peshawar
      - Horticultural Research Programme, ARI, Tarnab, Peshawar
      - Agricultural Research Institute (South), Dera Ismail Khan
      - Agricultural Research Institute (North), Mingora, Swat
      - Cereal Crops Research Institute, Pirsabak, Nowshera
      - Sugar Crops Research Institute, Mardan
      - Barani Agricultural Research Station, Kohat
      - Agricultural Research Station, Sarai Naurang, Bannu
      - Agricultural Research Station, Baffa, Hazara
      - Agricultural Research Station, Ahmedwala, Karak
      - Sugar Crops Research Station, Bannu

Institutions, Govt. of Balochistan

    • Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Agriculture College, Quetta
    • Department of Botany, Balochistan University, Quetta
    • Agricultural Research Institute, Sariab, Quetta
    • - Agriculture Research on Cereal Crops, Sariab
      - Agriculture Research on Fodder Pulses & Special Crops, Sariab
      - Agriculture Research Maize, Sorghum & Millet, Sariab
      - Agriculture Research on Oilseed Crops, Sariab
      - Agriculture Research on Soil & Water, Sariab
      - Agriculture Research on High Efficiency Irrigation System, Sariab
      - Agriculture Research Vegetable Seeds, Sariab
      - Agriculture Research on Fruits (Horticulture), Sariab
      - Agriculture Research on Tropical Fruits, Sariab
      - Agriculture Research on Economics & Marketing, Sariab

Institutions, Govt. of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK)

  • Agriculture Research Directorate, Muzaffarabad, AJK
  • Agriculture Research Station, Muzaffarabad
  • Department of Botany, AJK University, Muzaffarabad.
  • Department of Plant Breeding & Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Agriculture, AJK University, Rawalakot

Indian Farm Widows Join Protests Against Agriculture Reforms

NEW DELHI, Dec 16, 2020: Hundreds of Indian women, including many widows of farmers who were believed to have killed themselves over debt, joined a protest on Wednesday against government reforms that farmers say threaten their livelihoods. Farmers have been protesting for nearly a month over the reforms, enacted in September, to deregulate the agriculture sector, allowing farmers to sell to buyers beyond government-regulated wholesale markets.

Small farmers fear the changes will mean the end of guaranteed minimum prices for their crops and leave them at the mercy of big retailers. “If these black laws come, more farmers will go deeper into debt,” said 40-year-old Harshdeep Kaur, a widow from Punjab state, at one protest site on the outskirts of the capital, New Delhi. “More mothers and sisters will become widows like me.”

Suicide by struggling farmers has been a problem in India for years. Nearly 10,350 farmers and agricultural labourers committed suicide in 2018 - making up almost 8% of all suicides in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Kaur said her husband committed suicide three years ago after running up debts of 500,000 rupees (nearly $7,000). As she spoke, she held a passport sized photo of him.

The reforms, contained in three laws, loosen rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to assure farmers the changes will bring them new opportunities but few have been convinced. Several rounds of talks between farm union leaders and the government have failed.

“We’ll keep protesting,” said Gurbax Singh, a farmer union leader at a north Delhi protest site. The farmers have gathered at various sites around the capital since late last month, blocking traffic and clashing with police, at least in the early days of their action. Singh said dozens of buses, tractors and cars were being arranged to bring more women from Punjab – the epicentre of the agitation.

The protesters occupied several kilometres of a busy main road in western Delhi with their tractors on Wednesday. At a nearby protest site, old farmers lounged in ramshackle shelters beside medical stalls and makeshift kitchens. Kaur said she and other women were prepared to protest until the laws were repealed. “More women will come,” she said.

Mountain People Among the World’s Hungriest as Biodiversity Loss and Climate Change Take Their Toll

ROME, Dec 13, 2020:: Mountains host about half of the global biodiversity hotspots and are home to a growing number of the world's hungriest people, according to a new study launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and partners to mark International Mountain Day 2020.

The study conducted by FAO, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), shows that the number of mountain people vulnerable to food insecurity in developing countries increased from 243 to almost 350 million between 2000 and 2017. The joint study, "Vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity: updated data and analysis of drivers", was released today ahead of a virtual event to be hosted by FAO entitled "Mountain Biodiversity Matters".

This year's International Mountain Day highlights the social, economic and ecological value of mountain biodiversity as mountains account for 30 percent of the key biodiversity areas on the planet. Mountains provide between 60 and 80 percent of the world's freshwater, which is essential for irrigation, industry, food and energy production and domestic consumption. Many of the world's most important crops and livestock species also originate in mountain regions and are a source for food and medicine.

Yet the joint study found that mountain ecosystems are becoming increasingly fragile, under pressure from changes to land use and climate, overexploitation, pollution, demographic shifts and other factors which threaten livelihoods and food security. "The vulnerability to food insecurity of the mountain people in the developing world is compounded by the presence and occurrence of natural hazards and armed conflicts that disrupt livelihoods or put strain on the natural resources on which mountain people depend," the study concluded.

It also noted that environmental degradation affects mountain people disproportionately. Climate change has increased the degradation of mountain ecosystems and the incidence of natural hazards such as landslides and droughts.   Around 275 million rural people vulnerable to food insecurity were estimated to live in mountain areas that have already been affected by natural hazards. The COVID-19 pandemic has added urgency to an already difficult situation as restrictions imposed by various countries have amplified the vulnerabilities of mountain communities that depend on agriculture and tourism for their survival.

"One in every two rural mountain people in developing countries do not have enough food to live a healthy life and they are now dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must protect our mountains and the livelihoods of those who depend on them," said FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo, commenting on the study's findings. The joint study recommended urgent action to address climate change and remove food insecurity and malnutrition in mountain areas. It called for policies to improve the resilience of mountain ecosystems and promote sustainable food systems that support innovation, research and community involvement.

"Ultimately, the goal of this study is to call on decision-makers and others stakeholders to strengthen cooperative action to reduce the vulnerability of mountain people, in particular local communities and indigenous people, and of the most vulnerable among them, often women and children," the study said. The Mountain Partnership, a voluntary United Nations alliance that includes 400 governments, NGOs and other members, works for livelihood improvement and natural resource management in mountain communities.

This year's virtual event will feature a high-level segment, a session on collaborative actions and programmes, and a roundtable session featuring the Mountain Partnership Goodwill Ambassadors. Yuka Makino, FAO's Mountain Partnership Secretariat Coordinator, will moderate the event together with Mountain Partnership Goodwill Ambassador Jake Norton, a climber and filmmaker.

Drone Use in Agriculture-Laurie Bedord

By developing an end-to-end solution that delivers inputs precisely when and where they are needed, Michael Ott is working to retool the technology’s message. “Drones can do more than just capture imagery for field data,” says Ott, founder and CEO of Rantizo. “Our platform leverages that data to bridge the gap from analysis to action.”


Launched in 2018, Rantizo combines a DJI Agras MG-1P drone, autonomous hardware, and proprietary software that identifies problem areas, diagnoses field issues, sprays and applies required treatments, and then verifies issues have been addressed accurately. “Spraying crops is necessary, but conventional options, such as ground rigs and crop dusters, have their challenges,” Ott says. “Traditional methods can reduce yield by 1% to 3% due to crop destruction and upwards of 5% to 15% from soil compaction. Without precision capabilities, you can also see drift and wastage anywhere from 1% to 10%.” 

Equipped with a boom sprayer that has a 20-foot swath, ag-grade components, and a 2.7-gallon tank, Rantizo can apply liquids (e.g., pesticides) and solid products (e.g., fertilizer, cover crop seed, beneficial insects). “Based on aerial imagery, I only spray the trouble spots vs. the whole field, which reduces costs, prevents overspraying, and slows weed resistance to pesticides. It’s a win for the farmer and the environment,” says Brian Pickering, who firmly believes a drone is a perfect fit in driving efficiency and sustainability on his Iowa farm. “I can also spray soon after it rains; a big rig can’t in muddy conditions.”

While his initial plan was to use the system only on his farm, Pickering says it became apparent the technology could also be beneficial as a custom application service. A licensed, insured, trained, and certified application service contractor for Rantizo, Pickering applied microbiome products in June for a farmer who is working with an ag university to test and document how corn responds to the products. 

“This is an inexpensive, accurate way to test new products on your farm,” he says, adding that in lieu of fall tillage with machinery, he is also working with farmers to test the success of cover crops through drone application. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with other farmers, and it is a great learning experience for all of us,” Pickering says.

Also an application service contractor, Mike Maguire intends to use his Wisconsin farm as a testing ground for timely aerial application of seed, fertilizer, and chemicals throughout the growing season. “Farmers benefit not only from having the ability to spray fields that can be difficult to get to because of weather, but they also won’t compact or tear up fields or run down crops using a drone,” he says.

Key Upgrades: in the near term, Rantizo plans to add an autonomous mix & fill station to increase the drone’s productivity from 14 to 23 acres per hour. “We recently received approval to swarm with three drones, which allows us to cover about 40 acres per hour,” Ott says. “Swarming with the station gets us to about 60 acres per hour – close to what a tractor can do. By the end of 2020, we will be as productive as a tractor.” “I believe drones are on the cutting edge for ag,” Maguire says. “In a few short years, they will be as common as computers are today.”

Potatoes Export Increasing in World Potential Markets: MOC

ISLAMABAD, Dec 13, 2020(APP):: The Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Sunday informed that potato export was increasing as the Pakistani potatoes had a good market abroad and was expected to surge the trade volume in potential markets. A consultative session to discuss the issues pertaining to exports of potatoes was held at the Ministry of Commerce, via Video Link, said a press release issued here. The meeting was attended by the officials of MOC, Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR), and Department of Plant Protection (DPP).

The meeting also discussed in detail all bottlenecks being faced by farmers and exporters. The Advisor to Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood announced that he would visit the potato growing areas of the country soon to get first hand feedback on the issues faced by the farmers. He advised the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to double its efforts for marketing Pakistani potatoes abroad.

The adviser held an intensive interaction with the participants. It was also agreed that the MOC would also explore new markets for exporting Pakistani potatoes and all efforts would be made to obtain tariff concessions in that regard. “It is noted with appreciation that Potato yield and area under cultivation are increasing.” The Chairman of Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA), Waheed Ahmad, office-bearers of the Potato Growers Coop Society, farmers and the exporters of potatoes also participated in the session.

The participants informed the meeting about the bottlenecks in enhancing the export of potatoes, which included staffing of DPP, High Air Freight, lack of Research and development (R/D), Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) issues, yield, cost of production, lack of modernisation, and climate change. After extensive discussions, it was agreed that the Department of Plant Protection field offices would be established in all major potato growing areas.

This measure will greatly facilitate the exporters by saving the time for pre-shipment inspection and delay in sending their consignments. In the meeting, it was also agreed that to facilitate the export of potatoes, the issue of opening the Khunjrab pass for longer duration would also be examined. It was agreed to establish that establishment of a Potato Development Council would be explored. A follow-up meeting of MOC and MNFSR would also be held next week.

After Registering Rice, Pakistan Likely to Register Salt on Geographical Indication (GI)

ISLAMABAD, Dec 12, 2020:: Pakistan is likely to register salt on Geographical Indication after registering rice. “In response to my tweet on Geographical Indication (GI) on rice, many people have raised the possibility of registration of salt as GI. The Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO) is looking at items which can be registered as GIs,” said Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood on Twitter.

He said that all stakeholders are requested to kindly inform as to what course of action the ministry of commerce (MOC) & IPO should take in case of salt. Earlier, Pakistan had challenged India’s application to the EU for GI tag for its basmati rice that would provide exclusivity for its long, fragrant rice sold in the global market. Abdul Razad Dawood, adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister for commerce and investment, tweeted that Pakistan has filed its objection to providing India exclusive rights on use of basmati and the government would defend its case with due diligence and commitment.

Pakistan has a thriving industry of Basmati exports, making it one of the top five exporting countries of rice in the world. India had sought protection of its Basmati rice as a GI product in the EU in a mala fide attempt to deter Pakistan’s growing export and appreciation of Basmati, exporters said. Pakistan’s exports of Basmati to the EU have almost doubled in the last five years outpacing India’s.

The importers and customers in EU appreciate Pakistani Basmati more than that of India due to its exotic aroma, sweeter taste and soft texture and above all in terms of Food Safety including pesticides which has resulted in increased demand.

Deteriorating Agri Sector Can Undermine Optimism: Shahram Haq

LAHORE, Dec 10, 2020:: Pakistan’s current account has been recording a surplus for the past four months which is a positive development, however, it continues to surprise a majority of businessmen and economists. According to data of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the current account surplus stood at $382 million in first four months of the current fiscal year and major factors behind the surplus were the drop in volume of imports and higher inflow of workers’ remittances.

Still, the country is facing an acute wave of unemployment and low business activities across the board, excluding the export sector, with no significant expansion in large or small-scale industrial units. Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association former chairman Shahzad Ali Khan told The Express Tribune that apparently the claims of different government officials and Prime Minister Imran Khan about a rebound in the economy were true. “The current account surplus is positive news, however, it has been achieved by curbing imports. The ideal situation would have been a surplus by boosting exports,” Khan said.

“The positive news is that Pakistan has managed to sustain the export volume at a time when exports of our competitors are falling due to Covid-19.” However, Khan voiced fear that the entire optimism about the economy could be undermined by the deteriorating state of agriculture. “We are losing ground when it comes to the agriculture sector which we claim is the backbone of country’s economy,” he said. He questioned how much value could be added by the textile sector when it was importing cotton.

Khan lamented that other major produce of Pakistan such as wheat, sugarcane and maize was also under performing. Swift reforms in the agriculture sector were the need of the hour since low imports could impact it along with other sectors, he pointed out. Economist Dr Qais Aslam said that Pakistan’s economy was in a messy state. He told The Express Tribune that one could not say that the current account surplus reflected a rebound in the economy when some of the key indicators were still negative. “Pakistan’s economy is at its lowest level and it will rebound modestly,” he said. “We have to keep in view forecast of the World Bank, which predicts just 0.5% growth in the economy for the current fiscal year.”

Cargill, Fauji Foundation Join Hands to Strengthen Agri Supply Chain

ISLAMABAD, December 09, 2020:: Cargill and Fauji Foundation have entered a long term strategic partnership in Pakistan to strengthen agricultural supply chain in the country. With this investment, Cargill has taken a minority equity stake in Fauji Akbar Portia Marine Terminal Limited (FAP), Pakistan’s leading bulk terminal, and will handle grains, cereals, rice, oilseeds and fertilizers at Port Qasim.

Fauji Foundation, through this partnership with the world’s leading agriculture company, will transform FAP’s supply chain to enhance overall value for all stakeholders including suppliers, customers, employees and shareholders. This is Cargill’s first investment into Pakistan, after the strategic intent announced in January 2019 and reflects its long-term commitment to the country. Cargill made an announcement in 2019 regarding investing US$200 million in the country. Cargill is already a leading soybean and palm supplier in Pakistan and will further strengthen its presence as a significant agri-importer, while enabling FAP to leverage Cargill’s extensive experience in bulk handling, port operations and its technical know-how.

Combining Cargill’s customer centric approach with FAP’s operational excellence will help support customers better. Going forward, both partners aim to build a safety culture that will create a world class, safe and sustainable environment for FAP’s employees and customers. Fauji Foundation Chairman, Waqar Malik stated: “We are excited to have Cargill join hands with us at FAP Terminal, Port Qasim. To conclude this transaction at this point in time is a clear signal and validation of the Pakistan opportunity seen by the world’s leading player in agriculture commodities. With its global port experience, Cargill will help drive greater operational efficiencies for the port to reach its potential of handling agri-cargo safely and efficiently.

Fauji Foundation is building on its agricultural and infrastructure sector presence to help solve the pressing needs of our country for efficient and affordable nutrition through enhanced farmer productivity.” “We are proud to partner with Fauji Group in this venture. Fauji Foundation, along with other shareholders, have grown FAP into a key terminal for agricultural commodities over the last decade. We will, together, position the company for its next stage of growth and profitability. This further adds to our global port operation’s footprint and strengthens our agricultural trading and supply chain operations in the region. It is a demonstration of our commitment to partner in the economic growth of Pakistan by bringing in our global expertise and investment.

In future we will also look at opening doors for other sectors where we can add value, besides exploring business synergies with our existing partners,” said Imran Nasrullah, country president, Cargill Pakistan. FAP is the only modern grain terminal in the country and handles around 2.5 MT of imports annually. These imports are expected to further grow in tandem with the demands of a large population. A large portion of these imports include soybeans, which are crushed locally and have resulted in a large domestic oilseeds processing industry. It is therefore imperative that the port runs its operations as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

Cargill has a lot of experience in handling port operations and can help Fauji Foundation improve the efficiencies at the port and further modernize the operations using learnings from ports around the world. It might be mentioned here that Cargill has been operating in Pakistan since 1984 and has been involved in trading commodities such as wheat and cotton. Today Cargill’s operations comprise of refined oils, trading and handling of animal feed, grains & oilseeds, cotton, sugar and metals.

Animal health business is based in Lahore, which is involved in selling specialty premixes, additives and other nutrients to feed mills in the Punjab region. According to the Cargill, it is interested in exploring options in commodity trading, feed milling, dairy and poultry processing, oilseed crushing etc. The decision to invest in a particular area is only made after each option is studied thoroughly. “We will continue to find the right opportunities in the country in which can add value and significantly improve our presence in the country,” it added.

Pakistan To Harvest Over 40,000 Tons of Olive This Year

ISLAMABAD, Dec 01, 2020(APP):: Pakistan is all set to harvest 40,000 tons of olive during current season to produce about 3,500 tons of extra-virgin olive oil. The domestic production of olive oil will also help in fetching the handsome amount of foreign exchange through exports, besides saving precious money spent on import of the commodity.

While exploiting the abundant opportunities existing for the cultivation of olive across the country, olive has been cultivated over a vast areas of Pothohar region of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, Project Director of Olive Cultivation of Commercial Scale in Pakistan Dr Muhammd Tariq said.

Talking to APP here on Wednesday, he said that under the project about 1.2 million olive plants were planted in Pothohar region of Punjab that had immense potential of olive cultivation. Over one million olive plants were planted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 500,000 in Balochistan province under olive cultivation on commercial scales project, he added.

Dr Tariq said over four million hectares of marginal land had been identified for olive cultivation across the country, adding that Pakistan had the potential to cross Spain, the leading world olive producer and could earn billions of dollars annually. He said the country was spending an average of $4 billion per-annum on the import of edible oil including soya bean and palm to meet with the domestic consumptions.

By cultivating the olive on commercial scales, Pakistan can earn billions of dollars by exporting olive oil, its by-products including olive pickles, soap, tea and other cosmetics, he remarked. The project director informed that government had allocated an amount of Rs 2.3 billion in its Public Sector Development Program for the year 2019-20 on promotion and development of olive on commercial scale.

He said several other steps were being taken to encourage the small land holders to cultivate olive to alleviate poverty from the rural areas of the country. He said that in order to promote export of domestic olive oil, the government would provide branding, labeling, packaging and marketing facilities to private sector.

Dr Tariq further said in order to promote the exports as well as producing the extra virgin oil, the government was enforcing the standards of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Olive Council. He said the locally produced olive oil was competing with the international standards as it was certified by Italy, adding that Italy was also providing financial and technical assistance to government for olive promotion.

                   Tea Cultivation Technology in Pakistan-Agricultural News                              November 28, 2020

Introduction

Tea (Camellia Sinensis L.) is used as common beverage in almost all over the world. Pakistan has a long tradition in tea drinking which has become a favourite source of entertainment in the society. The per capita consumption is one kilogram. Pakistan imports all its tea requirements from abroad and, thus, the total annual import of tea was 2,60,000 m. tons in 2000 which costed about Rs. 12.0 billion to the national exchequer. Presently, Pakistan is the second largest importer of tea after United Kingdom. Demand for tea is growing day by day and in the wake of high growth rate of population (3.1% annually)

Soil and Climate

Tea is a crop of wide adaptability and grows in a varying range of climates and soils in various parts of the world. Deep liable loam and forest land rich in organic matter is very ideal. Generally tea soils of Pakistan are generally with organic matters, N, Potash, low K, lime and magnesia content hence soil Reaction is medium to strongly acidic.

Practice of liming is not followed in ease of tea because tea-does not thrive well on a soil which contains more than a trace of active lime sub soil should not be hard and Stiff and growth of tea on clay soil is more uniform and tea is of better quality than tea grown on coarse sandy soils.

i) Climate: Annual rainfall above 1000mm Air temperature: 12° – 30° C ii) Soil: pH value ranging from 4.5 to 6.5 iii) Labour: Cheap and adequate

Land Preparation

Cultural Method

Tea is taken on hilly areas; the land is prepared by cutting of low growing vegetation arid unwanted forest trees are cut and removed. Except few selected ones left for shade Stoop slopes are terraced and provided with contour drains and silt traps. A thick-wind-break of silver oak (Gravilica rohusta) is planted on the periphery. Also shade trees Viz. Silver oak, Jack are planted at adjoined 12-15 m apart a year in advance of the main plantation to provide protection: to provide protection against i.e. to provide shade, heat and torrential rains. They are lopped every year to provide adequate light and air.After field / land preparation pits measuring of 30-45 em deep, 22 cm diameter, are dug at distance of 1.2 to 1.5 m from one another. Filled with mixture of surface soil + FYM leaf mould.

Varieties

The best-known Chinese variety, Keemun, was tested under the environmental conditions of Pakistan, and the growth, production and green tea was found to be successful.

Cultivation Areas

Districts of Mansehra, Battagram, Swat and AJK.

Raising of Seedlings

Generally propagated by seeds; but vegetatively propagated plants give high yield, high quality, budding, grafting and layering have also been found successful.

Seeds sown first in germinating beds, then seedlings transferred- to other nurseries or baskets containing, loose friable soil. Here seedlings are allowed to grow for 6-8 months and subsequently 1.5 year (17 months) old seedlings are planted in April – May or Sept. Oct. In pits (previously prepared) dug in the permanent stags, Gapfiling as- well- as replacing, in to 30 years old bushes are also done at this time.

Manuring

Fertilizers mixtures supplying 60 kg N: 30 kg. P2O5 30 K20/ha are applied in one or two doses after pruning. Nitrogenous manuring is very essential for . promotion for leaf growth. Besides this application of compost and benefit derived from leaf fall of leguminous shade trees are grown for incorporation in the soil as green manures.

Inter Cultivation

The tea-gardens are hood and weeded 3 to 5 times during the rainy season. Shade trees are lopped to promote lateral development which will shade large area.

Topping and Pruning

Tea bush is pruned regularly to maintain proper shade i.e. 1,2 to-1.5 meter diameter at 1 to L2 meter height.When the plants are one year old-and have attained a height of 45 cm at this stage entering is done. Main stem is cut a few cm. above ground. The new laterials developed by the plant are again cut a little higher up.This process is repeated every year. In 4 or5 years me plant becomes a mature bush of 45-60 cm height and is ready to yield a crop. To encourage lateral spread, all shoots growing through center of the bush should be removed.After a cycle of pruning, the bush is cut back to 2-3 cm below the first cut This encourages fresh laterals and maintains yield at a high level.

Plucking and Processing

Tea bush is ready for yielding after 4 to 5 years of planting and having a height of 45-60 cm. Usually plucking is restricted to 2 leaves and a bud. This is called a fine and light plucking. Coarse plucking includes extra one or two leaves. In North Tea is plucked at interval of 7-10 days from April-Dec. in South plucking continues throughout the years at weekly interval during March-May and at 10-14 days during other 3 months i.e. during June-Feb. (9 months).

Processing

For manufacturing of Black tea, the plucked leaves are dried for 18 – 24 hours in ventilated indoor racks rolled for half an hour mechanically to breakup cells, then fermented or oxidized again for 8 hours at 27°C to 105°C and passed through sieves of different moshes, thus sorting out grades and again graded into.

a) leaf b) Broken c) Dust tea.

Yield

The average yield is 1200-1500 kg/ha of made tea. Vegetatively propagated clones often give as much as 2000 kg/taken during cultivation and processing but on natural factors such as soil, climate, altitude and topography. Leaves are rich in caffeine and tannin.

Vegetable Growers Should Apply Fungicides to The Seeds to Control Diseases

LYALLPUR CITY, Nov 28, 2020:: Farmers are instructed to follow the precautionary measures against the threats of scabies, late blight, and downy mildew attack while planting vegetables in tunnels.

To control these diseases, cultivate the seeds with crop rotation by applying fungicide thiophenate methyl or carbendazim. Remove the infected plant from the field, burn them, and also spray the chemicals for protection.

Tackling Food Allergies at the Source

LOWA STATE UNIVERSITY, USA, Nov 24, 2020:: Food allergies are a big problem. About 7% of children and 2% of adults in the U.S. suffer from some kind of food allergy. These allergies cost a whopping $25 billion in health care each year. Then there's the time lost at school or work. And there's the risk of serious complications, even death.

It's critical to find ways to reduce the suffering caused by food allergies. Food processing companies already spend a lot of effort to label products so people can avoid items they're allergic to. But what if we could do better? What if we could enjoy the foods we like without worrying they might trigger a health crisis?

That's the focus of Eliot Herman's work. Herman has spent his career studying why plants trigger allergic reactions and how to reduce the chance of them being triggered. Herman is a member of the Crop Science Society of America and recently presented his work at the virtual 2020 ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting. "Food allergies are an important societal issue. By altering food and by treating sensitive individuals, this can be mitigated, improving their lives and impacting the total medical expenditure in the U.S.," says Herman.

Herman focuses particularly on soybeans. Soybean allergies especially affect children and infants. And because soybean products like oil and protein are used in countless food products, it's hard to avoid. Earlier in his career, Herman found the protein made by soybeans that is responsible for most soybean allergies. Now, he has dedicated his work to understanding why this protein is so aggravating and how we can reduce it in the crop.

To do so, he's turning to animal models. Pigs sometimes have a soybean allergy very similar to that of humans. Herman worked with a research team that bred pigs that are extra sensitive to soybeans. Testing new crops on allergic children wouldn't be possible. But these pigs can be used to see how well plant breeders have done at removing allergenic proteins from soybean seeds.

That's a feat that Herman has done not once, but twice. Previously, Herman partnered with the company DuPont to produce a line of soybeans that couldn't make the most allergenic protein. They made this soybean line using genetic engineering. This new soybean was a genetically modified organism (GMO), and there was also demand for a non-GMO soybean without the allergenic protein.

So Herman went back to the drawing board. He worked with his colleagues to find a line from the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) national soybean collection that naturally didn't make the allergenic protein. That means no genetic engineering would be necessary. They then crossed that line of soybeans with a more commonly grown soybeans to create a new, productive soybean with reduced allergic sensitivity.

"This new soybean is intended to be a low-allergen prototype to be tested as a conventional, non-GMO line to mitigate the allergic response for consumers," says Herman. The hypersensitive pigs can now be used to test if these low-allergen soybeans are safe enough for allergic individuals. That wouldn't only be good for allergic people who want to safely eat more items from the grocery store. It would also be good news for animals.

Since pigs are often fed soybeans, a low-allergen soybean could reduce their own allergic response. Dogs also have a high prevalence of allergic reactions to soybean, which is used in some dog foods. So reducing the crop's allergenicity would be good for man's best friend, too. "Food has been recognized as medicine since ancient times. By reducing soybean's allergens, we hope to produce positive a medical outcome for humans and animals," says Herman.

Eliot Herman is a professor of plant sciences and Bio5 Institute at the University of Arizona. This work was funded by United Soybean Board and the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. American Society of Agronomy. "Tackling food allergies at the source." Science Daily. Science Daily, 18 November 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201118080800.htm>.

Crop Diversification Can Improve Environmental Outcomes Without Sacrificing Yields

LOWA STATE UNIVERSITY, USA, Nov 23, 2020:: A new study shows diversifying agricultural systems beyond a narrow selection of crops leads to a range of ecosystem improvements while also maintaining or improving yields. But a professor of agronomy at Iowa State University who co-authored the study said some marketing and agricultural policy considerations will have to change for farmers to adopt diversification practices more widely.

The study, published last week in the academic journal Science Advances, analyzed the results of 5,188 separate studies that included 41,946 comparisons between diversified and simplified agricultural practices. An international team of researchers carried out the study, known as a meta-analysis, and looked for patterns in the mountains of data collected in previous field studies. The results showed that in 63% of the cases examined, diversification enhanced ecosystem services while also maintaining or even improving crop yields. The researchers described this as a "win-win" result.

"The overall conclusion is there's a lot to be gained from diversifying cropping practices," said Matt Liebman, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State and co-author. "Across many different countries in many different climates and soils, with many different crops, the general pattern is that with diversification, you maintain or increase crop yields while gaining environmental benefits."

Agriculture in the Midwest is dominated by just a few crops, mainly corn and soybeans. But the study looked at a range of farming practices aimed at introducing more diversity to cropland. Those diversification practices include crop rotations, planting prairie strips within and along fields, establishing wildlife habitat near fields, reducing tillage and enriching soil with organic matter. Such measures improve water quality, pollination, pest regulation by natural enemies, nutrient turnover and reduced negative climate impacts by sequestering carbon in the soil.

"My colleagues and I wanted to test if diversification is beneficial for both agricultural production and ecosystem services. The current trend is that we simplify major cropping systems worldwide. We grow monocultures on enlarged fields in homogenized landscapes. The results of our study indicate that diversification can reverse the negative impacts that we observe in simplified forms of cropping on the environment and on production itself," said lead author Giovanni Tamburini at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and University of Bari.

Changes in policy needed

Liebman said barriers related to government ag policy, market considerations and the dissemination of data discourage farmers from adopting many of the diversification practices examined in the study. But showing that such practices do not depress yields, and in some cases increase them, might encourage farmers to consider the practices.

Many current policies and market conditions incentivize farmers to focus on a few highly productive and profitable crops. In Iowa, that means corn and soybeans are grown on the majority of cropland. But Liebman said rethinking those considerations, as well as working with farmers to transfer knowledge that allows them to gain confidence with diversification, could lead to wider use of the practices.

The meta-analysis approach allowed the research team to combine data from thousands of other studies that tested how crop diversification affects yields. The researchers used innovative data analytics to find patterns in those results, Liebman said. The approach allowed the research team to gain a new level of insight that isn't possible with individual experiments.

"What our study suggests is that if we want improved water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat and if we want to continue to work on the soil erosion problem, diversification offers a lot of options to us," Liebman said. Iowa State University. "Crop diversification can improve environmental outcomes without sacrificing yields." Science Daily. Science Daily, 10 November 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201110133217.htm>.

Four Countries at Risk of Famine: UN Food Agencies Warn

NEWYORK, (Layalpur Post), Nov 23, 2020:: People in four food insecurity “hotspots” in the world are at the brink of famine, a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned. Burkina Faso, northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen need urgent help or they could slide into famine if conditions there undergo any further deterioration over the coming months. “We are at a catastrophic turning point. Once again, we face the risk of famine in four different parts of the world at the same time,” said Margot van der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies.

“When we declare a famine it means many lives have already been lost. If we wait to find that out for sure, people are already dead,” she added. The “Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Insecurity Hotspots” report was released on November 6th. It uses the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system to chart escalating degrees of food insecurity which include five phases. IPC phase 5 (Catastrophe/famine) is the most severe.

Within the four hotspot countries, parts of the population are facing emergency acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 4) – a critical hunger situation with extreme depletion of livelihoods, insufficient food consumption and high acute malnutrition. In the case of Burkina Faso, many households are already in IPC Phase 5 and are experiencing famine-like conditions. The number of desperately hungry people in the country has almost tripling compared to 2019, driven by increasing conflict, displacement and COVID-related impacts on employment and food access.

But these four hotspots are not the only countries painted in red on the world map published in the report. Another 16 countries are at high of facing potential spikes in high acute food insecurity, driven by multiple overlapping drivers, such as conflict, economic decline, climate extremes and the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, there are 21.8 million people now estimated to be acutely food insecure - the highest number ever registered for a single country. The report has the aim to inform decision-makers in order to avoid a major emergency - or series of emergencies - in the coming months.

“This report is a clear call to urgent action,” said Dominique Burgeon, FAO's Director of Emergencies and Resilience. “We are deeply concerned about the combined impact of several crises which are eroding people's ability to produce and access food, leaving them more and more at risk of the most extreme hunger. We need access to these populations to ensure they have food and the means to produce food and improve their livelihoods to prevent a worst-case scenario.

” How the situation evolves in high-risk countries will depend on conflict dynamics, food prices, and the myriad impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their food systems, rainfall and harvest outcomes, humanitarian access, and the readiness of donors to continue funding humanitarian operations, FAO and WHO informed in a press release. The UN agencies called for urgent action from the international community and reminds us to learn our lesson from the crisis in Somalia. “In 2011, Somalia suffered a famine that killed 260,000 people. The famine was declared in July, but most people had already died by May. We cannot let this happen again. We have a stark choice; urgent action today, or unconscionable loss of life tomorrow,” van der Velden warned. (ab.)

Minister Floats Idea of Seed Banks

KARACHI, Nov 20, 2020:: Seed technology of Pakistan requires a paradigm shift and the country needs to learn from other nations how it can add value to its seeds to build resilience to climate change, diseases and pests, said Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam.

Speaking at a webinar titled “China-Pakistan Agricultural Cooperation and Prospects”, organised by the China Economic Net and The Express Tribune on Thursday, the minister said that Pakistan should establish seed banks so that seeds from other countries could be stored there.

He stressed that Pakistan needed to learn from China’s expertise in the agriculture sector. “China has performed exceptionally well and raised its cotton production by a huge margin,” he told the webinar participants. “Pakistan used to produce a mammoth amount of cotton but unfortunately we have fallen behind now.”

The minister emphasised that Pakistan should learn hybrid seed production from China because currently it was importing high-yielding rice seeds from Beijing.

He recalled that in March 2020 Pakistan and China had signed a memorandum of understanding to make technology and agriculture part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

“We look forward to benefitting from it because agriculture contributes 19.3% to Pakistan’s GDP (gross domestic product) and employs 40% of the workforce,” he said.

“With all the measures the government is taking to facilitate investors from China, we hope that relations between the two countries will deepen in future,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Board of Investment Secretary Fareena Mazhar pointed out that the agriculture sector represented a fifth of Pakistan’s economy, however, the output had been declining for the past few years.

She stressed that Internet of Things (IoT) could help farmers optimise resources and enhance productivity, adding that the government had introduced reforms aimed at energising business growth to uplift the agriculture sector.

She pointed out that 64 out of 313 tariff lines included in the second phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement were related to agricultural products.

Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Director Market and Trade Research Office Zhai Xueling said that cooperation between Pakistan and China in the agriculture sector had solid foundations.

“Comparative advantages are at play on both sides. Pakistan has low-cost labour while China has the technology to aid the agriculture sector of Pakistan,” she said.

“China’s trade with Pakistan has increased, and both imports and exports have jumped.” China mainly imported rice and aquatic products from Pakistan.

According to Zhai, China can help Pakistan with drip irrigation as well as primary food processing techniques, which would help leverage Pakistan’s geographical position.

She was of the view that Pakistan’s economy was in a good shape having massive potential and excellent investment climate. She voiced hope that Pakistan’s production of nuts, cotton and yarn would expand in the coming years.

National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ehsanullah Tiwana held the opinion that improvement in agriculture was the only way for expanding Pakistan’s economy.

He lamented the bureaucratic hurdles in the sector as quality seeds failed to reach farmers. “We are making efforts to introduce a policy, which will result in agricultural surplus,” he said.

He pointed out that Pakistan, despite being a cotton-producing country, was importing the commodity due to shortfall caused by climate change and substandard seeds. In that regard, he revealed, he would present policy recommendations to Prime Minister Imran Khan within six to eight weeks.

Recovery of Pakistan’s power loom industry and agriculture with positive growth despite Covid-19 should be taken as positive signals, he stressed and highlighted that at present the agriculture sector had a shortage of workers, which was a positive sign as jobs were being generated.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong said that China and Pakistan had jointly established communication channels for business-to-business cooperation and information sharing.

“This will encourage both sides to invest in seed industry, agricultural material, agricultural industry and agriculture product processing,” he said.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Moinul Haq said that agriculture had been identified as the sector that would be given special attention. Under CPEC phase-II, agricultural cooperation was included as part of the socio-economic development strategy, he said.

He told webinar participants that a special working group on agriculture was established in cooperation with China in March 2020 and a plan of action was being discussed between food ministries of the two nations to implement a large number of joint projects.