By Sarah Saeed
Land is an essential resource and one of the primary elements of statehood which ensures the survival of a nation-state.Administrative inefficiencies, corruption, and lack of transparency that afflict conventional land management practices can lead to land conflicts and poor management. The cumulative impact of past negligence has made economic revival, a question of survival for Pakistan.
Looking back, Pakistan’s First Green Revolution was launched in the mid-sixties. Through the use of innovative technologies, timely application of high-yielding varieties (HYV) seeds, chemical fertilizers, and irrigation water, the output of food grains increased by three times. At that time, Pakistan scored far better than other South Asian nations, where the production of wheat surged by 79%, from 3.7 MMT to 6.8 MMT.
As of now, population-production gap is widening while area under cultivation is declining, and agriculture-related imports are now estimating at $10 billion,creating economic stress. Simply put, Pakistan’s productivity is currently below average. According to the World Food Program, 18.3% of Pakistanis—36.9% of the population—are experiencing acute food crises. With the entire wheat demand exceeding 30.8 MMT, the wheat shortage problem is becoming worse. There is now a shortage of about 4 MM as output is just 26.4 MMT. Over the past ten years, cotton output has decreased by 40%, from 14.8 million bales to 5 million bales.
With all these challenges in view, there is a dire need to take a promising initiative, aimed at enhancing Modern Agro Farming utilizing over 9 million hectares of uncultivated waste state land. In this regard Land Information and Management System – Center of Excellence has been established under Director General Strategic Projects by Adjutant General Branch, GHQ. LIMS is a digital platform to manage land related data with the mission to ensure Food Security and Optimize Agricultural Production inPakistan through innovative technologies and sustainable precision-guided agricultural practices based on agro-ecological potential of land, while ensuring well being of rural communities and preservation of environment.
LIMS is keen to contribute significantly in Agriculture sector and has recently initiated Modern Agriculture farming projects, starting from Punjab. In coordination with all provinces, thus far total land identified is almost 4.4 million acres in which Punjab and Sindh both separately have 1.3 million acres of land, whereas Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 1.1 million acres of land and Balochistan contains 0.7 million acres of land. The project is well expected to deliver a paradigm change in terms of land management and agricultural growth, triggering a system revolutionization. System revolutionization refers to the use of real-time data on land, crops, weather, and pest management under one roof to guide agricultural progress.
As planned, Research & Development in Seeds, Fertilizers, and Artificial Intelligence-based solutions through public/private collaborations and agreements with foreign and domestic partners will improve effectiveness, productivity, and sustainability by ensuring food security through large-scale farming, including livestock. Precision farming, biotechnology (genetic engineering, seed coating, and seed inoculation), irrigation management, pest management, agro-forestry, and aquaculture are some of the contemporary farming practices introduced by LIMS. These practices will further increase production yield, decrease input costs, minimize environmental impact, and support research and development.
The world is currently using 80 % hybrid seed while Pakistan is using only 8% of the same. Pakistan’s seed requirement is 1.77 million tons, whereas seed availability is only 0.77 million tons. LIMS efforts are in hand to use certified hybrid seeds with concurrent development of seed involving Japan Vegetables (JVs) with Multi-National companies, which can pay rich dividends.
By leveraging the expertise, resources, and technology of various entities coupled with modern irrigation systems, Pakistan is in desperate need to revolutionize its agricultural sector horizontally and vertically as well as ensure food security for its rapidly growing population. As an immediate and well calibrated project which promises introduction of transparency, efficiency, and equality to the system, LIMS has the potential to revolutionize land management in Pakistan.
Planned under LIMS, real-time data gathering, processing, and reporting will be useful for identifying problems and putting into place prompt solutions for increased output. In turn, this will not only solve the constantly lingering threat of food security but also make it possible for the country to ecplo export possibilities and support the expansion of economy. Additionally, by allowing Modern Agro Farming access to state property, it will help in drawing investment, foster innovation, and provide job possibilities.