Technology enables farmers transforming country’s agricultural landscape: Ahsan Iqbal

Technology enables farmers transforming country's agricultural landscape: Ahsan Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, Jul 6 (APP): Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday said technology and innovation would enable farmers to become more knowledgeable and competitive, transforming the country’s agricultural landscape.

Addressing an event to unveil a report, ‘AgriTech: Crafting Pakistan’s Journey to Impact’ jointly launched by Telenor Pakistan, Tabadlab and GSMA, he said, “In this age, technology and innovation are the most significant game-changers that are redefining the dynamics of the agriculture sector.”

This report, he said, would further empower the farmers of Pakistan in breaking barriers and revolutionising the Agri sector.

Ahsan Iqbal said Telenor Pakistan was a critical stakeholder in bringing innovation and learning on digitalisation from Norway, and “I look forward to its talented workforce playing a pivotal role in a brighter Pakistan”.

The report identifies existing challenges to the sector and evaluates the impact that AgriTech will have on accelerating growth. The authors find that adopting modern agricultural techniques and targeted AgriTech interventions can boost national outputs and improve socioeconomic outcomes.

The AgriTech report combines study and insights from the GSMA and Tabadlab’s Centre for Digital Transformation to carve the ideal path forward for Pakistan’s agricultural sector. It highlights how technology and digitalisation boost the nation’s crop yields.

The report highlights the importance of aligning public and private sector approaches towards agritech for increased adoption. In addition, the report shows how agritech operates at the intersection of the technology and agriculture ecosystems, making it essential to understand and analyse drivers and trends of digital technologies as means to unpack agritech in Pakistan.

Telenor Pakistan CEO Irfan Wahab Khan said, “The report presents the blueprint for a better-performing agriculture sector that can result in higher yields for farmers and have an impact of up to USD 10 billion on the nation’s GDP. We know there is an eagerness to make the digital shift, thanks to the immense success of Khushaal Zamindaar in guiding farmers with data-driven best practices in farming.”

He said there was also an opportunity for agritech services to become entry points for farmers to become financially included, given that currently, they constitute less than 30 per cent, so, the next step should be further improve Agritech adoption throughout the county and fortify an industry that employed 40 per cent of the nation’s labour force.

Umar Nadeem, a founding partner at Tabadlab, said: “To meet the needs of the agriculture sector, Agritech services must grow. Despite positive trends, significant opportunities exist for the ecosystem to grow and support existing and new entrants. The private sector has been a crucial player in expanding Pakistan’s AgriTech footprint and integrating technology into the farmer’s everyday life, but to successfully address challenges in the agriculture value chain through technology, private agriculture solutions need to be cultivated through increased capital, government support, and innovation cycles.”

Agriculture is a crucial sector for Pakistan’s economy as the highest employer of the labour force, with approximately 25 million Pakistanis earning their livelihoods from it.
However, the country’s crop yields are lower than comparable international benchmarks despite a quarter of Pakistan’s landmass being cultivated and used for agricultural production. This has presented the right opportunity to focus on the sector’s digital transformation through connectivity, data, artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, and innovation.

Agritech holds the potential to produce efficient farming mechanisms while enhancing livelihoods and giving farmers greater control over their yields.