Pakistan may double its total annual grain output
Editor's note: Cheng Xizhong, Visiting Professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law,Special Commentator of China Economic Net, former Defense Attache in South Asian countries. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of China Economic Net.
by Cheng Xizhong
Lately, a group of young Pakistani agricultural technology entrepreneurs have pioneered a project "Digital Dera” in Pakpattan, a district of Pakistan, about 148 kilometers away from Lahore.
They believe that China’s digital farming and smart agriculture practices are a shot in the arm of Pakistan’s agriculture growth.
With regards to China-Pakistan agricultural technology cooperation, I would like to make comments on three aspects:
First, Pakistan has bright prospects for agricultural development. Recently, there has been frequent interaction between the government and non-governmental organizations on China-Pakistan agricultural technology cooperation, which shows that both sides have recognized the importance of agricultural technology cooperation in promoting Pakistan's agricultural modernization. I feel that this is just a good start and there is still a lot of work to be done. With years of unremitting efforts, China's agricultural science and technology development is now at the forefront of the world in many fields. Pakistan has many favorable conditions for developing agriculture. The land is fertile. The arable land accounts for 40% of the total land area, and the per capita arable land is twice as much as China. However, the yield per unit area of main crops in Pakistan is only about 50% of that in China. If the two sides carry out close technology cooperation, Pakistan may double its total annual grain output, that is, from the current 40 million tons to 80 million tons.
Second, the “Digital Dera” pioneered by some young Pakistani agricultural technology entrepreneurs and Agricultural Demonstration Gardens jointly run by China and Pakistan is commendable, which will make people realize the prospects of modern agricultural development. However, the development of agriculture should be powered by science and technology, oriented by market, and guaranteed by quality and benefits-oriented. So, we should open a scientific, professional, scale development and commercialized managing way. The specialization of agricultural production should be multi-level, which is mainly reflected in regional specialization, farm specialization, and production specialization. According to climate and soil conditions, a large area of arable land can be divided into several main crop belts. In each belt, we plant the most suitable crop, to form "wheat belt", "soybean belt", "onion belt", etc.
Third, to help Pakistan develop its modern agriculture, the agricultural science and technology organizations of China and Pakistan can further strengthen cooperation, and Chinese agricultural production enterprises can invest in Pakistan on a large scale. In terms of agricultural cooperation, we may also consider taking the mode of infrastructure project construction such as Karot Hydropower Project and Port Qasim plant, that is, build-operate-transfer (BOT). To be specific, I mean, it is mainly invested by the Chinese side and operated jointly by both sides. The agricultural products are directly exported to the Chinese market, and finally, the farms are handed over to the Pakistani side free of charge after the investment cost is fully recovered.