Pakistan seeks cooperation with China to modernize agricultural sector and enhance food security

A farmer harvests wheat on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, May 20, 2021. As Pakistan’s agricultural sector is the backbone of the national economy, officials and experts in the country believe that enhanced cooperation in the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can greatly help Pakistan to modernize the sector, ensure food security and improve the livelihoods of local people. Photo: Xinhua

As Pakistan’s agricultural sector is the backbone of the national economy, officials and experts in the country believe that enhanced cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can greatly help Pakistan to modernize the sector. , ensure food security and improve the livelihoods of local populations. .

According to figures from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the agricultural sector contributes around 24% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), accounts for half of the employed labor force and is the main source of foreign exchange earnings.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan recently said the government is seeking China’s support to boost the country’s agricultural sector to ensure sustainable development and prosperity.

Pakistan is moving towards modern agriculture, and the country will follow in China’s footsteps to develop agribusiness, Khan said, adding that to further uplift the sector, the government has made it one of the main areas of development. cooperation within the framework of the CPEC. .

In January 2021, China and Pakistan launched an online platform to collect and display information and achievements of agricultural and industrial cooperation between the two countries, aiming to enhance bilateral cooperation under CPEC in the two sectors. .

In a conversation with Xinhua, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam said stronger cooperation with China in agriculture can bring a green revolution in Pakistan and stimulate economic and social development.

“Pakistan and China have a long history of agricultural cooperation, and the country (Pakistan) has excelled in many areas through improved bilateral agricultural research and development,” Imam said, adding that the China has not only established its agricultural sector on modern lines. , but also extended its assistance to countries including Pakistan under the Belt and Road Initiative, of which CPEC is a flagship project, to boost agricultural development.

China has helped Pakistan improve the production of cash crops by imparting valuable knowledge and technology transfer. The country also provided Pakistan with unprecedented support during the worst locust attack last year by sending experts, equipment and chemicals, saving the country from the threat of massive food shortages, a- he declared.

Highlighting various possible areas of agricultural cooperation between the two countries, the minister said that there is great potential in the fields of seed industry, agricultural equipment and machinery, processing of agricultural products, agricultural investments and support service systems such as warehousing, cold chain and logistics. promote the transformation and upgrading of the agricultural sector.

The country can further consolidate its strength in agriculture by learning from China’s past achievements and upcoming development projects in agricultural science and technology and mechanization, the president told Xinhua. of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Muhammad Azeem Khan.

“The cooperation will not only improve agricultural production and ensure food security, but it will also change the destiny of the Pakistani people,” he said.

Speaking about the challenges facing the sector, the PARC Chairman said that agricultural productivity in Pakistan has recently declined due to a number of factors including climate change, drought, diseases and pests, which have largely hampered economic growth and caused food security problems.

Crops like cotton and wheat have been badly affected recently due to severe climate change and unexpected rains in the country, he said, adding that cotton products contribute to a large part of the country’s exports, Pakistan therefore needs to cooperate with China to produce resistant varieties to better cope with the adverse effects of climate change.

Muhammad Ansar, chairman of the department of agronomy at the Pir Mehr Ali Shah University of Arid Agriculture in Rawalpindi, said Pakistan needs to adopt a global and international perspective in its business practices to make its agricultural products more competitive on the markets. international markets in order to earn valuable foreign currency.

The use of old cultivation and production methods, the neglect of quality certification systems and quality control standards of the international market, and the lesser understanding of consumer needs have been the reasons for the decline in demand for Pakistani products in the international market, Ansar told Xinhua.

Pakistan can seek help from China to improve production technology and product quality, and expand the sales market to increase exports to various countries, including China, one of the main export destinations. of the country, he said.

“With the formation of prudent trade policies and high value-added products in the agricultural sector, the country can develop a huge consumer market in China,” Ansar said.

Farmers harvest wheat on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, May 20, 2021. With Pakistan's agricultural sector being the backbone of the national economy, officials and experts in the country believe that enhanced cooperation under the corridor China-Pakistan Economic Partnership (CPEC) can greatly help Pakistan to modernize the sector, ensure food security and improve the livelihoods of local people. Photo: Xinhua

Farmers harvest wheat on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, May 20, 2021. With Pakistan’s agricultural sector being the backbone of the national economy, officials and experts in the country believe that enhanced cooperation under the corridor China-Pakistan Economic Partnership (CPEC) can greatly help Pakistan to modernize the sector, ensure food security and improve the livelihoods of local people. Photo: Xinhua

Farmers harvest wheat on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, May 20, 2021. With Pakistan's agricultural sector being the backbone of the national economy, officials and experts in the country believe that enhanced cooperation under the corridor China-Pakistan Economic Partnership (CPEC) can greatly help Pakistan to modernize the sector, ensure food security and improve the livelihoods of local people. Photo: Xinhua

Farmers harvest wheat on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, May 20, 2021. With Pakistan’s agricultural sector being the backbone of the national economy, officials and experts in the country believe that enhanced cooperation under the corridor China-Pakistan Economic Partnership (CPEC) can greatly help Pakistan to modernize the sector, ensure food security and improve the livelihoods of local people. Photo: Xinhua

Farmers harvest wheat on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, May 20, 2021. With Pakistan's agricultural sector being the backbone of the national economy, officials and experts in the country believe that enhanced cooperation under the corridor China-Pakistan Economic Partnership (CPEC) can greatly help Pakistan to modernize the sector, ensure food security and improve the livelihoods of local people. Photo: Xinhua

Farmers harvest wheat on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, May 20, 2021. With Pakistan’s agricultural sector being the backbone of the national economy, officials and experts in the country believe that enhanced cooperation under the corridor China-Pakistan Economic Partnership (CPEC) can greatly help Pakistan to modernize the sector, ensure food security and improve the livelihoods of local people. Photo: Xinhua

Lana T. Arthur