Agro-zoning can transform Pakistan's agriculture sector: experts

June 13, 2024

Muhammad Saleem

Agro-zoning can transform the agriculture sector and increase its productivity, according to the Punjab government's agriculture minister. Syed Ashiq Hussain Kirmani said that agriculture patterns were changing due to climate change, which necessitated agro-zoning to enable farmers to optimise productivity per acre by cultivating multiple crops. Additionally, he said agro-zoning would enable farmers to utilise their resources efficiently and unlock the untapped potential of their lands. Dr Mehmood, a faculty member at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, explained the concept of agro-zoning and said the land was divided into zones following its features like soil type, climate, and water availability. "This zoning enables farmers to choose crops well-suited to their specific areas and available resources."

"Agro-zoning serves as a roadmap to improve cultivation in different regions of the country," he added. When asked about the impact of agro-zoning on the agriculture sector, he told WealthPK that the method would leave a significant impact. "We need cultivation of suitable crops in different zones that will help farmers increase the fertility of their lands and per-acre yields." "We have to stop employing low-efficient traditional methods," he said, adding farmers need to boost production and optimise profits. Mehmood said agricultural scientists and educational institutions had to work hard for bringing innovations in the agricultural sector. He said agro-zoning was recognised as an efficient method for developing a competitive agricultural sector. Khalid Ahmed, a progressive farmer, told WealthPK that farmers across the globe were employing multiple methods to boost their productivity with the help of their governments.

"However, growers are at the mercy of nature and middlemen in Pakistan." He said middlemen exploited them with impunity, but policymakers seemed least interested in bridging them. He said most farmers in Pakistan still relied on traditional methods as they could not assess the changing patterns and choose high-yielding crops due to their limited knowledge. Khalid said agro-zoning could transform the country's agricultural landscape as it provided a scientific basis for decision-making. "With the help of agro-zoning, farmers can choose the ideal crops for their lands. Wise selection of crops will surely lead to higher yields that will ultimately improve the profitability of growers," he added. Highlighting the challenges to implementing agro-zoning in Punjab, Dr Mehmood of Faisalabad varsity said limited knowledge of farmers was the major hurdle.

He said growers wouldn't be ready to shun traditional agricultural patterns as they still believed new methods would reduce their production, making their financial conditions fragile. "Prior to going for agro-zoning, we have to launch a mass level awareness to educate farmers about its benefits." Besides, he said the government had to ensure the availability of disease-resistant seeds and irrigation water to farmers. "Without ensuring these facilities, agro-zoning will not benefit our agricultural sector." He said farmers' participation was a must to ensure the success of agro-zoning because being producers they were the main stakeholders. "The agricultural departments should train farmers to be ready for the agro-zoning." Khalid, the progressive grower, said agro-zoning could be a game-changer for the agricultural sector of Pakistan as it offered a data-driven approach, which was mandatory for sustainability and productivity.

Credit: INP-WealthPk