Attaining Sustainable Agriculture - Need of the Hour

By Khan, Rao Abdul Rauf | Economic Review, March 1993 | Go to article overview

Attaining Sustainable Agriculture - Need of the Hour


Khan, Rao Abdul Rauf, Economic Review


We are still in the process of transaction in the history of agriculture. Prior to the beginning of three Revolution of 60s the cultivable waste land that could be transferred under cultivation was 31 million hectares which has now decreased to 20 million showing thus large scope for bringing new land under cultivation. Today even after lapsing of four decades of planned era about 50% of land resumes equivalent to land already in command has still remained to be exploited. Despite of all constraints bountiful yields in almost all the crops specially wheat, rice, sugar and cotton has been obtained. In matter of food we have reached nearer to serf-sufficiency, but in case such situation continued then how can we increased food production to meet future needs. For this attention has to be paid on making Agriculture sustainable which is fair to the future growth to which aspect priority is to be given. For this there is need to lay emphasis towards as in most countries, the transition from a resources-based to a Science based system of agriculture. In developed world the process of completing one of most remarkable transactions in the history of agriculture long before where as in developing world it has began after mid-century but not in a systematic manner by increasing applications of agricultural technology enabled the farmers to meet future demands. Optimists cite as evidence the declining world wheat international price since the middle of last century and declining rice prices since the middle of century. But the past may not accurately fore tell the future. Particularly in the developing countries, explosive growth in population and per capita consumption incurring more than 78 per cent of budgeting in meeting staple food, need will produce exceedingly high demands into the middle of the next century.

As second reason for concern is that gains in agricultural production that will be needed over the next quarter century will be much more difficult to achieve than those of immediate past. This is a fact that it has been very recently realized that increased application of fertilizers are today producing declining in increase in production. Further to add to this is that the amount being spent on research supply to prevent yields from dealing is rising as a share of total research spending. This worries particularly developing countries just to maintain their current agricultural research capacity. However, Ruttan W. Vernm, the author of the article titled "Art and Science of Sustainable Agriculture published in the International Development Bank's November 1992 issue, believes that although advances in molecular biology and genetic engineering will probably reduce the constraints on productivity growth in the major grain crops, they can do nothing to eliminate the need so called "subsidies" from outside the agriculture sector. These subsidies consists primarily of transfer of energy in the form of minerals fuels, pest control chemicals and mineral nutrients, all of which are essential for sustaining growth in agricultural production. Further the spill over effects from intensified agriculture include loss of soil due to erosion water logging and salinization, surface and ground water contamination from plan nutrients and pesticides, resistance of insects, weeds and pathogens to present method of control and the loss of natural habitats. Further expansion of agriculture into fragile environments and conversion of forests to croplands will cause soil erosion and desertification, species loss, degradation of water quality and climate change. All this necessitates us to lay emphasis on sustainability issue. In order to survive it become necessary specially for developing countries like Pakistan must sustain technology needed to meet new demands. As against this the leading nations believe in attaining sustainable development steadfastly.

The role played by agricultural development of a developing country like Pakistan, is very significant. …

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