Pakistan needs to go toward modern agriculture: scholar
JINAN, Feb 28th (Gwadar Pro) – “Modern agriculture is an ever-changing approach to agricultural innovations and farming practices that helps farmers increase efficiency and fulfil food demand. Pakistan is an agricultural country and our economy is about 70% dependent on agriculture, but we are still using conventional agricultural approaches. That’s why Pakistan is facing a food crisis including sugar, wheat and vegetable shortages every year. We must go toward modern agriculture, otherwise we will face extreme food shortage in coming eras,” Dr. Anwar Ali, Postdoctoral fellow of Vegetable Research Institute, Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS), said in an exclusive interview with Gwadar Pro.
Ali is a major in plant biotechnology, and he is always concerned about agricultural modernization. “I have researched expertise regarding genome editing for abiotic stress tolerance such as low temperature, high temperature, heavy metal and other environmental influences. Currently, I am working on Chinese cabbage genome editing. Actually, I have already identified some novel genes that will help enhance Cadmium and salt stress tolerance,” he introduced.
During his six years studying in China, he has been trying to use science and technology to accelerate Pakistan's agricultural modernization process. “I have learnt an advanced level of research expertise in China including plant genome editing, gene cloning, CRISPR-Cas9, RNA-seq, CHiP Seq, luciferase Assay. Those can help my country make a fundamental transition from current classical agri-techs to state-of-the-art crop cultivation. For example, soil contamination is a big problem for agriculture in Pakistan. My current research is based on this, so search plant genes that can enhance cadmium or salinity stress tolerance, which is the key problem of my country,” Ali explained.
He added: “Now, CPEC has entered the second phase focusing on agricultural modernization. Actually, there are several agricultural cooperation projects under this framework that are operated. But that will not be enough if Pakistan is to modernize its agriculture. CEPC is a game changer for both countries. Under this frame, China can get easy access to central Asia and the Middle East to establish the market, and Pakistan can get benefits from Chinese advanced technology for agricultural modernization. From Pakistan's point of view, cooperating with China is easier, quicker and more reliable as compared to Europe and the USA. It’s very important for Pakistan to get Chinese agricultural technologies, hybrid seeds, herbicide and insecticides, greenhouse technology and talents. Pakistan imports thousands of tons of seeds every year from Western countries, which is very costly, while Chinese seeds are cheaper and more productive, and more suitable for Pakistan's environment. In addition, the Pakistani environment is perfect for off season vegetable production, and China is an excellent market for it.”
Now, besides his own research, Ali has also become a bridge between Pakistan and China agriculture research institutes/universities to facilitate academic agricultural cooperation. “I also want to be a link to engage our university students, especially BS, Master and PhD, who can come to China for research, which will be a great initiative for accelerating the agriculture modernization process in Pakistan,” he said.