As Pakistan's agriculture sector remained crucial for the country's economic growth, experts and scientists said that enhanced cooperation with China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can help revitalize the country's agriculture sector and combat the challenge of food insecurity.
A seminar titled "Pak-China Agriculture Cooperation under CPEC" was held Thursday by the CPEC-Agriculture Cooperation Center at Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi and the Asian Institute of Eco-civilization Research and Development to explore ways to boost agricultural development, and understand opportunities offered by agricultural cooperation under CPEC.
Muhammad Azam Khan, director of the CPEC-Agriculture Cooperation Center, said that China has made notable progress over the years in the modernization of the agriculture sector, having enhanced productivity while focusing on quality yield.
He noted that Pakistan has a lot to learn from the Chinese experience for the growth of its agriculture sector, highlighting that harsh weather, unscientific farming systems and expensive inputs have marginalized the sector, which resulted in food insecurity in Pakistan.
"Currently in Pakistan, farmers have started high-density planting of fruits trees which need highly efficient technologies for practices like pruning, spraying, harvesting ... we can work out with Chinese companies to learn about the latest technologies for the betterment of local farmers," Khan said.
The expert said that agricultural cooperation under CPEC will further enhance value addition processing to help more Pakistani products meet the international standards.
He added that Pakistan and China need to work together in the fields of seed technology, agricultural material and machinery, agricultural product processing and supporting service systems to promote the transformation and upgrading of the agriculture sector.
Qamar Uz Zaman, vice chancellor of Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi, said that science and technology-based advancements have breathed new life into China's agriculture sector, stressing the need for Pakistan to strengthen mutual exchanges with Chinese counterparts and facilitate Chinese companies to work in Pakistan to bring green revolution and give impetus to the economic and social development.
Being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, Pakistan needs to adopt climate-smart agriculture techniques as the challenges posed by climate change have not only gravely affected the production and quality of crops, but also created numerous problems for farmers, he said.
"We (Pakistan and China) have a long history of agricultural cooperation. We have been able to achieve milestones in many areas and the cooperation needs to be enhanced further to produce quality products to be exported to other countries including China to earn valuable foreign exchange," he added.
China's new agricultural technologies, machinery and crop varieties are continuously being introduced in Pakistan under CPEC, which have greatly improved the most important sector of Pakistan, said Gu Wenliang, agricultural counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan.
He said cooperation in the field of modern agricultural equipment, seed industry, food processing and storage, and animal and plant disease control has greatly improved the quality and production of various valuable crops and livestock products in Pakistan.
The counselor suggested enhancing people-to-people exchanges, exporting Pakistani agricultural products with comparative advantage to China, and developing policy research to promote agricultural industrialization cooperation between the two countries.