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Climate Change: Using Biotechnology in Agriculture Sector urged

Climate Change: Using Biotechnology in Agriculture Sector urged
International seminar on ‘Climate Change and Agricultural Biotechnology’

Sindh is located in the intense heat zone and rise in temperature and change in precipitation due to climate change can further aggravate the conditions – VC SAU

The international seminar was jointly organized by Sindh Agriculture University, US Consulate Karachi and Sindh Abadgar Board.

Tando Jam: The experts, scientists and diplomats at an international seminar expressed concern over global warming, climate change, environmental pollution and its negative impact on agriculture and livestock and recommended implementing joint research and use of biotechnology.

Experts recommended for climate change adaptation in Agriculture sector, adaptation practices along with varietal improvement in various crops, institutional and human capacity building, allocation of budget for research in climate change and food security, technological advancement along with innovation and integration of adaptation policy measures that would be helpful for agriculture development of Pakistan.

The international seminar on ‘Climate Change and Agricultural Biotechnology’ was held at Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam on Wednesday. The Seminar was jointly organized by Sindh Agriculture University (SAU), US Consulate Karachi and Sindh Abadgar Board.

Addressing the seminar Prof. Dr. Fateh Muhammad Marri, Vice Chancellor, SAU Tandojam said that Pakistan is a highly vulnerable country in the world in relation to climate change. “Global Climate Risk Index 2020 report has ranked Pakistan at number five among the most affected countries in the world in terms of impacts of extreme weather events,” he said and added “Sindh province of Pakistan is located in the intense heat zone and rise in temperatures and change in precipitation due to climate change can further aggravate the conditions”.

He further said that the scientists and researchers can address the climatic change effects using the tools of biotechnology for crop and animal breed improvements, disease control and environmental safeguards.

“The university will establish national and international partnerships for transfer of biotechnology, research and development and understand the national and international safeguards and regulations in relation to biotechnology”.

Provincial Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Coastal Development and Universities and Boards, Muhammad Ismail Rahoo read out a message by Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Minister Sindh. In his message Chief Minister highlighted the importance of agricultural biotechnology and said that it can contribute positively towards climate change adaptation and mitigation through reduction of greenhouses gas emissions, carbon sequestration, less fuel use and energy efficient farming. He further said that country needs to improve crop productivity and protecting the ecosystem using various resources of biotechnology with ensured safeguards. Sound application of modern biotechnology will help to counteract climate related problems and thereby securing crop production for fast growing population. He emphasized that the safe applications of modern agricultural biotechnologies will contribute to increased yield, food security and also it will significantly contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives.

US counsel General Mr. Mark Stroh said that beyond trading commodities our agricultural industries can prosper from exchange of technical information, lessons learned and best practices. “This is even more important as farms in both our countries learn to adapt a changing climate, promoting agriculture innovative can help ensure that our farms operate more sustainability and are better equipped to deal with change like droughts, floods and blight.”

Watch Video: International Seminar on ‘Climate Change and Agriculture Biotechnology’

Abdul Rahim Soomro, Secretary Agriculture, Government of Sindh highlighted the impact of climate change on food security in the country. He highlighted water scarcity frequent drought, dying of Indus delta, sea intrusion and deterioration ground water quality, excessive use of pesticide and biodiversity losses has deteriorated the agriculture economy of Sindh. He added that agriculture department is extending and building collaboration with line departments especially Sindh Agriculture University, Tandojam and farmers’ representatives of Pakistan.

Mehmood Nawaz Shah, Senior Vice President, Sindh Abadgar Board highlighted the issues of farmers and crop yield and added that wheat, rice, and maize are the main food crops, and sugarcane is the main cash crop of Pakistan and added that biotechnology would support to improve yield of production of various crops especially cotton, wheat and maize to mitigate the food security issues in Pakistan.

Prof. Dr. Heman Das Lohano, Professor of Economics, IBA Karachi presented paper on Climate Change, Agriculture and Biotechnology and added that climate change is a global environmental threat to all economic sectors specifically the agricultural sector. “Pakistan has faced extreme weather events affecting huge damage to the major crops and properties of farmers”.

He suggested that there is need for research and development through agriculture-biotechnology to develop and adaption of heat resistance varieties, cold tolerant, drought, pest resistance, and short duration cultivars to accelerate crop growth to cope the challenges of climate change and Food Security. He added that use of bio-based fertilizer, water thrifty, high value crops through cost benefit analysis would be helpful for the Agriculture Development of Pakistan.

Mr. Chris Rittgers, USDA Agri. Attaché, US Embassy Islamabad said that USDA will support to exchange the products through regular process. He said that they want to understand regulation of products and producers in Pakistan. “The biotechnology is a main tool to increase income and enhance farm production at field level”.

Prof. Dr. Sarah Davidson of Boyce Thompson Institute of Plant Research said that biotechnology is a main tool for agriculture development of the country and further added that ‘we need innovation and technology for the adaptation and mitigation of climate change’.

Prof. Dr. Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, Director of the Economics and Management of Agro Biotechnology Center (EMC) University of Missouri said that genetic engineering may be focused and new climate smart varieties should be promoted for agriculture production.

Ms. Audrey Stevens, Economic Unit Chief, US Consulate Karachi welcomed the participants of the seminar. Syed Nadeem Shah Jamote, Senior Vice President, Sindh Abadgar Board, Syed Mira Muhammad Shah, Chairman, Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, and Zulfiqar Yousfani also spoke on the occasion. (PR)