Session on "Achieving Food Security in Digitalized World"

Pakistan has moved from 7th to 5th position among ranking of the countries that are vulnerable to climate change. This was expressed by Ms Androulla Kaminara, AmbassadorThe European Union (EU) to Pakistan.

The Ambassador was talking to the Session of "Achieving Food Security in Digitalized World" organized by Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) in collaboration with Sustainable development Policy Institute (SDPI), on December 5, 2019.

EU Ambassador said that EU use Integrated Phase Food Security Classification to determine the food insecurity in a country/region. According to IPC Global Report 2018, in Pakistan, in Sindh province particularly in Tharparkar, Umerkot and Sanghar districts majority of Food Insecure people lives who are around 2 million. Pakistan is facing challenges in growth in agriculture due to Climate Change. Situation has deteriorated compared to last year, she added.

Prof. Dr Qamar Zaman Vice Chancellor PMAS-AAUR said that digitalization can help inform farmers not only about the markets but also to guide them on improved farming practices, issuing of early warning to avoid any crisis and enhance their productivity. He further added its time to consider profitability of farmers and not limit research only to their income.

Dr Abid Suleri Executive Director SDPI while addressing the session said government under the BISP program is planning to issue mobile phones to 9million BISP beneficiary women which is great opportunity to engage women farmers through this new platform to disseminate market information and early warning as well as messages on improved practices to avoid losses from swing to harvest and post-harvest.

Dr Babar Shabaz from University of Agriculture Faisalabad said the process of formally transferring new agricultural discoveries, improved practices or innovations to the farmers with ultimate aim to increase productivity. This technology transfer can help to improve the capacity and productivity of the farmers and crops yield as well.

Dr Arnold Elepano from University of Philipine recommended that we need to develop roadmap for Smart Farm Development to include research agenda, pilot testing and information advocacy and government should provide enabling environment to promote the use of digital technology to increase farm productivity.

During the session Prof. Dr. Allah Bakhsh, Dean Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, said that It is an established fact that adoption of appropriate technology enables farmers to modernize their management practices for increasing crop yields, reducing crop failure, and ultimately increasing farmer's income i.e. leading towards profitable farming. Application of Digital Technologies include RS, GIS, land use mapping, monitoring crop and soil health, identifying potential farming zones, weather advisories, crop stress/disease detection, assessing domestic and export marketing potential -> leading towards providing real time data to make Smart Farming Decisions for enhancing farmer's profitability.

Dr. Muhammad Jehanzeb Cheema, Associate Prof. University of Arid Agriculture Rawalpindi suggested that Introduction of precision agriculture technologies is the need of the hour and this can increase the productivity of crops yield.

Dr Malik Jahan Khan, Associate Professor (Computer Science) from Namal University Mianwali, Dr. Muhammad Saeed of PMAS-AAUR said that some developed systems are commercial and a common farmer has to pay for subscription which is not possible for poor farmers.

Researchers, faculty members and students from different institutes/universities also shared their knowledge and how block chain, IoT and digitization can help increase production and support in improving livelihoods of the farming communities in particular and food security of masses in general.

The session was moderated by Dr Qamar Uz Zaman, Vice Chancellor University if Arid Agriculture Rawalpindi.