Pak-Sino cooperation in precision agriculture highlighted by expert

RAWALPINDI: “The climatic condition of many parts of China are quite similar to that of Pakistan. Thus it is a great opportunity to learn from the Chinese experience in precision agriculture to improve Pakistan’s agricultural outputs,” noted Dr. Muhammad Naveed Tahir, Associate Professor from Department of Agronomy, Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR), Pakistan, while taking an exclusive interview.

As Dr. Tahir puts it, precision agriculture (PA) is of great importance for Pakistan for three reasons. First of all, much of the most productive agricultural land in the country is turned into housing land, significantly reducing agricultural land. Secondly, the cost of agricultural input is increasing these years, making it more necessary for farmers to consider and apply the input in a precise way. Lastly, environmental issues have been getting serious due to the overuse of fertilizers pesticides, weedicides, fungicides, etc.

“That’s why PA is important for Pakistan to increase agricultural productivity per unit area to feed such a large population of over 212 million,” he explained.

However, “Actual application of PA technologies needs trained personnel, but they are not available in most of the developing countries including Pakistan,” Dr. Tahir told.

To tackle this, Pakistan is progressing several cooperation and exchange programs with China on different aspects of PA application and Dr. Tahir is leading it. One of the latest steps is the signing of MoU on supporting the establishment of Belt and Road Alliance for International Precision Agriculture Cooperation (BARAIPAC), and other MoUs were also signed with National Center for International Collaboration Research on Precision Agricultural Aviation Pesticide Spraying Technology, South China Agriculture technology (NCPAA) and Xinjiang Corps Beidou Navigation Precision Agricultural Industry Technology Innovation Alliance, China.

However, Dr. Tahir acknowledged that more needs to be done. “Academic cooperation should be promoted to exchange knowledge and experience from both sides, including training workshops, seminars/conferences, and special talks of experts,” Dr. Tahir recommended.

“China is now the leading agriculture in the world. It has developed its own capacity to indigenize agricultural technology and automation of farm machinery for different crops,” Dr. Tahir said, adding that more potential is in dire need to be tapped between China and Pakistan on PA. “We’ve already nailed down good initiatives with the Chinese partners, and I think we need to expand further cooperation to demonstrate PA application in the field,” he further said. -Agencies