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Role of agriculture on Pakistan Economy

August 8th, 2011

Agriculture plays an critical role in the national economy of Pakistan, where most of the quickly increasing population resides in rural locations and depends on agriculture for subsistence. Biotechnology has considerable prospective for promoting the efficiency of crop improvement, food production, and poverty reduction. Use of modern biotechnology began in Pakistan considering that 1985. Currently, there are 29 biotech centers/institutes in the country. Nonetheless, few centers have suitable physical facilities and trained manpower to create genetically modified (GM) crops. Most of the activities have been on rice and cotton, which are among the top five crops of Pakistan. Biotic (virus/bacterial/insect) and a-biotic (salt) resistant and top quality (male sterility) genes have already been incorporated in some crop plants. Regardless of acquiring capacity to create transgenic plants, no GM crops, either produced locally or imported, have been released in the nation. Pakistan is signatory to the World Trade Organization, Convention on Biological Diversity, and Cartagena protocols. Concerted and coordinated efforts are needed among different ministries for implementation of regulation and capacity constructing for import-export and nearby handling of GM crops. Pakistan could easily benefit from the expertise of Asian countries, specifically China and India, where conditions are comparable and the agriculture sector is nearly like that of Pakistan. Therefore, the exchange of details and experiences is essential amongst these nations.


The key crops grown are wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, and maize. Gram and other pulses, oil seeds, and fodder crops are also grown in different parts of the nation on sizeable areas. In Pakistan, the typical yields of crops, in spite of rapid boost in the Green Revolution era, are still low compared to other countries. A significant gap exists among the potential and realized yield for nearly all the main crops. With a few exceptions, the typical yield of most of the crops is either stagnant or has even declined for the duration of the last decade, even though input expenses and amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, and so on. continued to enhance. The agricultural production program in the country can operate on sound scientific and stable bases only if farm technology is kept in tune with the altering environmental and socio-economic conditions through an efficient and dynamic agricultural study system (ARS). Biotechnology is 1 of the recently emerging sciences that developed really rapidly in distinct fields affecting human life. It shows a huge prospective in helping mankind solve troubles that are challenging to deal with making use of classic approaches. This science has passed the period of academic study and has reached the phase of practical application on a huge scale. In agriculture, biotechnology has been applied in various fields, including the production of genetically modified (GM) crops. Biotechnology has considerable potential for promoting the efficiency of crop improvement, food production, and poverty reduction, specifically in creating countries like Pakistan.



Agriculture Biotechnology in Pakistan

First training course on recombinant DNA technologies was organized at the Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB), Faisalabad, Pakistan, 1 of the 3 agricultural centers of the Pakistan Atomic Power Commission (PAEC). This workshop recommended the establishment of an exclusive National Center of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering. Meanwhile, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) initiated efforts to establish an International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), and Pakistan applied for locating such a center in the country. Two evaluation missions visited Pakistan for evaluation, and Pakistan was short listed. Unfortunately it was not built in Pakistan, and ICGEB was divided into 2 parts, situated in New Delhi, India, and Trieste, Italy. Biotechnology investigation has been carried out at a lot of of the research centers in Pakistan. There are now much more than 300 scientists working in 29 study centers conducting biotechnology analysis on various aspects of diverse crops, and about US million has been invested by the government in biotechnology investigation and development for the duration of the last 3-four years.


Molecular Breeding


In Pakistan, most of the crop improvement activities making use of contemporary biotechnology are focused on rice and cotton, which are amongst the top 5 crops of Pakistan. Brassica, chickpea, chilies, cucurbits, potato, sugarcane, tobacco, and tomato have lately been taken up. Amongst indigenously developed GM crops, cotton is at a fairly advanced stage of commercialization. Similarly, virus-resistant and salinity-tolerant GM cotton is at the field stage of evaluation. Following cotton is basmati rice, which has also been evaluated in the field for two years although not however submitted for approval. 3 other GM plants (sugarcane, potato, and tomato) are also in greenhouses at the field stage. Even though transgenic plants of these crops have been obtained, field evaluation was hampered due to the delays in approval of biosafety guidelines. No GM crop has been approved for commercial cultivation so far in Pakistan under Pakistan Biosafety Guidelines (2005). National bio-safety guidelines by the Ministry of Environment (MOEnv) have now provided an opportunity to evaluate the GM crops for safe release into the environment and for commercial cultivation. There are now 10 instances of GM crop plants being submitted to the National Biosafety Committee (NBC) for evaluation/approval.



All regulated laboratory research is classified into

(l) minimal level of risk,

(2) low risk, or

(3) considerable risk,

(5)laboratory containment conditions


For regulated field work, comprehensive containment conditions have been prescribed separately for GM microorganisms plants and animals.


Pakistan has made considerable progress in the study and development sector of agriculture biotechnology and has developed many GM crops. Nonetheless, commercial release is hampered due to delays and weak capacity of regulatory bodies related to biosafety and IPR (Plant Breeders Rights).There is an illegal spread of biotech (Bt) cotton on a significant area due to powerful demand of farmer community. So far, development of GM crops has remained exclusively in the public sector, but lately multinational firms (MNCs) have produced the initiative to enter into the industry under new conducive regulatory regimes that require to be further strengthened. Capacity building in regulating authorities aided by strict legal control is a prerequisite for safe and sustainable use of agricultural biotechnology. It is expected that the farmers of Pakistan will reap the benefits of legally released and indigenously developed biotech crops in the subsequent 1-2 years.

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