Food security can be ensured by clamping emergency in agri sector: Prof Niaz

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(By Syed Ejaz Ahmed Shah)

RAWALPINDI, Aug 6 (APP): National food security can be
achieved by clamping five years emergency in the agriculture sector,
Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University (PMASAAU) Vice
Chancellor Prof Dr Rai Niaz Ahmed said here Sunday.
“Seeing the population boom and water scarcity, the country
is in dire need of achieving food security and the goal can be
attained through invoking emergency in the agriculture sector,” he
said in an exclusive interview with this news agency.
Dr Niaz, who has long experience in irrigation and agriculture
sectors besides holding post doctoral degrees, said,”Currently we are
celebrating 70th year of Pakistan’s existence and need of the hour
is to pledge for attaining food security.”
The country, he said, had all the resources and capabilities
to achieve the goal easily if the same were tapped and utilized
in an appropriate manner.
He told APP that global water experts had forecast that by
2070 those countries would survive which had already created water
reservoirs and storage in order to tap every drop of the Almighty’s
blessing for its onward use during hour of need.
He said the country was bestowed with a variety of seasons and
weathers and was fully capable of meeting the challenges ahead by
adopting an appropriate and timely approach for securing the future of
coming generations.
Quoting his experiences and educational expertise, Dr Niaz
said that agri yield could go up manifold by adopting a progressive
approach coupled with techniques and skills. “Our large on-farm
experiments have shown results proving that agri yield per acre can
go beyond 200% to 500% by adopting the latest methods and techniques
for irrigation, growing and harvesting.”
He said adoption of “Hybrid” technology was now a history of
the past whereas it was high time to go for advanced methods for
agriculture like “Hydroponics” and “Drip Irrigation” technologies.
By adopting those techniques would not only help boost
yield to 500 times but also get rid of hefty spending on
fertilizers, pesticides and germicides, he added.
He said the university had already started on-farm training
and imparting skills to the growers about advanced agriculture and
if resources were made available that programme could be taken to
the entire country or at least to the provincial level.
Opposing the ongoing practice of sowing wheat in the Potohar
plateau, he said the growers due to inability of proper information,
education and skills had not only been wasting resources but also
loosing hefty returns by planting and sowing inappropriate kinds and
species.
He said they required to plant and sow best suited kinds,
species and varieties according to areas’ soil and environment as
well as irrigation resources to boost their earnings, besides
helping achieve security of the most vital sector.
He pointed out that the region being rain-fed fields required
to concentrate on sowing or planting vegetables or fruit thus
earning better returns. If done so, he said, the region had the
potential to amply meet the requirements of the entire country in
fruit and vegetable sectors.
Dilating future plans, Dr Niaz said the PMASAAU was working
to open up its satellite campuses in Murree, Attock and Khushab with
the major aim to providing skillful hand to help the poor growers of
the respective areas where traditional agri methods were order of the
day.
He said the region had been proven to be the best for
producing citrus, olives, dates, grapes, fig, apple, almond and
variety of vegetables besides good quality tomatoes by adopting
tunnel irrigation, therefore the grower was required to educate to
grow cash crop instead.
He said the university with the aim to make Hydroponic
technology sustainable in the country had set up Institute of
Hydroponic Agriculture (IHA) catering to the needs in training,
research and development and indigenization of equipment and spares.
The IHA, he said, would also help increase and diversify fruit
and vegetables production technology, besides producing high yielding
and better quality products. It would also go a long way in preparing
models for hydroponic vegetables for kitchen gardening.
Dr Niaz holds Post Doctorate degree from Tottori University
Japan, another Post Doctorate Degree from Kyoto University Japan and
PhD in Agriculture Engineering from Iowa State University of the
United States. He joined the PMASAAU back in 2013 as Vice Chancellor
after serving Faisalabad Agriculture University at key positions.