CPEC: Experts for technology transfer, capacity building of Pakistani farmers

Islamabad: At a policy dialogue, experts demanded Pakistan-China Council on Agriculture Development led by the private sector of both the countries to focus technology transfer and capacity building of Pakistani farmers on modern technologies under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The experts were addressing the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) the policy dialogue titled “Greening of the CPEC: Sustainable Agriculture in Pakistan and the Learnings from China” organized here.

Dr Hassan Daud Butt, former project director CPEC, former CEO Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment said that the future of agriculture production and food security relied on technology advancement, good policies and leadership. However, it was pertinent to establish a council of agriculture development led by private sector and linked them to Chinese counterparts that would help achieve targets swiftly.

He mentioned that China has made massive progress in the field of agriculture through consistent policies, leadership and technology-driven interventions.

Butt added that the Chinese advancement in agriculture sector was unique in its fashion as less public capital and more private sector investment was utilized in developing the agriculture sector.

“Pakistan needs to learn from Chinese about planning on short, mid and long-term goals with top to bottom approach with policy consistency. Moreover, the leadership on public and private sector needs to be strengthened through mutual collaborations, whereas prudent and timely reforms in agriculture sector are needed,” he said.

He maintained that the SDPI’s scoping study is based on sustainable agriculture development in Pakistan through lessons learnt from Chinese progress. He urged the authors to add livestock as component to the study focus to further broaden the scope with insights on the marketing aspect as well.

Research Associate, Misbah Khan provided a comprehensive view on the preliminary findings of the report titled “Scoping Study on Agriculture Development in Pakistan”.

The report shed light on precision agriculture in Pakistan and its challenges, policy infrastructure bottlenecks and financial constraints whereas climate-smart agriculture was given due to focus.

For the report, she said consultations were conducted with federal and provincial stakeholders, development organisations and the local communities, particularly farmers.

The scoping study underscored the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in agriculture sector of Pakistan and discussed the lessons learnt from China, she added.

Khan mentioned that Pakistan might create its route towards resilience, productivity and environmental stewardship by developing synergy with China’s technology advancement, policy support and investment opportunities.

Associate Professor, PMAS, Arid Agriculture University, Dr Gulshan Irshad in her presentation highlighted that China had developed small to large scale technology solutions to facilitate farmers of different capacity levels.

She said the collaborations under CPEC with China should have a focused transfer of technology, capacity building and knowledge sharing on all modern agricultural farming trends including technology, advanced line seed variety and cropping techniques like aquaponics, hydroponics and tunnel farming.

She said that the farmers at the local level were welcoming to modern concepts of agriculture farming that would help them improve their crop yield and reduce burden on soil and ecology due to environment damaging practices.