Pakistan Biotechnology Information Center—Lahore Chapter in collaboration with CropLife Pakistan and Forman Christian College University Lahore organized a Webinar on “COVID-19, an opportunity to reform the Agricultural system of Pakistan.

The webinar has been attended by scientists, policymakers and representatives from leading biotech institutes, academia, crop science industry, farmers, and other stakeholders.

Dr. Kauser Malik, Dean of Postgraduate studies FCCU and Director of PABIC Lahore, highlighted that Crop biotechnology has all the ways to make the agricultural sector of Pakistan to flourish.  The government needs to focus on supporting small and marginalized farmers and promote small-scale innovative technologies to promote growth in this sector. A lot of strategic planning is needed in streamlining the biotechnology products in the country.

“Government should play a leading role to ensure food security and control price. Introduce special industrial zones in every farm district, equipped with cold storage, food-processing units, connected with retail chains and export industries. Improving water management is key as the four major crops (rice, wheat, sugar cane, and cotton) consume 80 percent of water but contribute only 5 percent to GDP. Improving the nexus of agriculture, education, training and research and technology is the need of the hour.” Dr. Kauser explained.

Prof. Dr. Iqbal Choudhary, the Coordinator-General COMSTECH, said that during pandemic period the science has demonstrated the true spirit of researchers to find solutions under limited national capacity.

Dr. Sianghee Tan, Executive Director CropLife Asia also participated in the Webinar. He said that “The global pandemic has wreaked havoc on food supply systems in Pakistan and across Asia. Existing issues across the food value chain have been exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19, while new ones have been created as well. Our responsibility as stakeholders is to ensure the men and women who drive food security across the region are supported to do just that. This includes providing policies that enable and empower our farmers to produce more safe and nutritious food on less land and with fewer impacts to the world around us.”

At this occasion, Dr. Yusuf Zafar – Former Chairman PARC gave talk on wake-up call to modernize the grain storage and reporting systems in Pakistan. He said “The way forward is revisiting the procurement policies, incentivizing the private sector for grain storage and involving foreign investment to develop modern storage and handling system.” He further added that strong coordination between API, PBS, SUPRCO and Provincial CRS departments is crucial for the success of this sector.”

Representing CropLife Pakistan, Mr. Murtaza Quddusi, Regulatory Affairs Manager at BASF, briefed the participants on various disruptions to the agriculture supply chain due to COVID lockdowns across the country and rest of the world. Mr. Quddusi highlighted the potential of digital technologies for farmer outreach and knowledge dissemination activities, and shared the success of CropLife member companies in overcoming physical restrictions to serve the farmers through such innovative methods

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