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Two new institutes to be established in agriculture sector

FAISALABAD (October 04 2007): Federal government is going to establish two new institutes in agriculture sector to promote and boost research activities in the sector.

According to sources in Food, Agriculture and Livestock Division, agri experts had completed project report for establishment of National Institute of Genomics and Advance Bio-Technology (NIGAB) and National Institute in Soil and Geomatics (NISG).

The sources said that NIGAB would be established at a cost of Rs 482.707 million, while NISG would cost Rs 39.7 million. Agriculture experts said that the `Green to Gene Revolution` has essentially run its course and its achievable potential has been largely realised.

The emergence of post-green revolution problems, especially pests and diseases, declining water resources and land degradation coupled with high population growth, are now posing threats to food security and environmental sustainability of the current production systems.

Official statistics presents schematically possibilities of increasing productivity by employing best practices, and inputs from scientific research and development.

When we couple this with the looming water shortages, we believe that it will be difficult for Pakistan to support a population of 230 - 260 million in 2030, with current technology and current best possible practice alone, they added.

The expert pointed out that biotechnology could play critical role in meeting agricultural targets during this century, leading to higher production, better resistance, and lower costs of production.

Agriculture experts disclosed that the global planting of transgenic crops was rising annually at a rapid rate from 1.7 million hectare in 1996 to 81 million hectares in 2004. By the end of 2004, transgenic crops were grown in several developed and developing countries; two-thirds of the world`s transgenic area and more than 90 per cent production was located in developed counties, they added.

Pakistan has entered this sector by developing transgenic cotton varieties, which will drastically reduce use of pesticides. In contrast to `green` revolution, the `gene` revolution has several issues related to intellectual property rights and not being freely available to end-users; this requires intensification of research in public sector.

Internationally, they said, most of the current agro -biotechnology research was being undertaken by a few multilateral companies and caters to the interests of rich farmers and developed countries.

`We are optimistic that Pakistan will also generate international players in its private sector, but for the time being, the public sector will play the major role in ensuring that small and disadvantaged farmers and resource poor areas are not left further behind by the upcoming gene revolution,` they added.

Agriculture Experts stated that Pakistan has diverse agro-climatic conditions and a good natural resource base (land and water); it also has the world`s largest contiguous irrigation network, suitable for diversified and intensive agriculture production system.

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