‘Low investment harming Pakistani farming’

April 13th, 2008 - 1:44 pm ICT by admin  

By Suhail Yusuf
Islamabad, April 13 (IANS) Pakistan is struggling to reverse the effects of low investment in agricultural research in the 1990s, according to experts. Despite being an agrarian economy, the country’s investment in agricultural research declined 31 percent between 1991 and 2000, said M.E. Tusneem, chairman of the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC).

“The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) sources show a sharp decline in Pakistan agricultural research (in the 1990s), the lowest among SAARC countries,” Scidev.Net quoted Tusneem as saying.

“Pakistan is currently facing many agricultural crises, only due to slackness of agricultural investment in the 1990s,” said Iftikhar Ahmed, also of PARC.

He added that the low budget during this decade hindered recruitment, research and the building of new institutes - resulting in the loss of more than 150 experts, including 53 researchers holding PhDs, which hampered ongoing projects and research.

“Agricultural development and the plight of agriculturists have never been a priority issue of our policy,” noted Khair Mohammad Junejo, the former federal minister for agriculture.

“The decline in agricultural research investment is very unfortunate because, in Pakistan, agriculture is key to prosperity, development, exports and industrial foundation.”

Junejo said that Pakistan had good institutions and knowledge but lacked the mechanisms to disseminate this information to its farmers.

“Cotton is our main commodity. We have developed Bt cotton but, unfortunately, the government has not adopted it officially nor are private farmers allowed to use it. India and China are far ahead of Pakistan in this field.”

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