Economics & Business

Bio Technology: viable solution to deal food crisis in Pakistan

Last year in July, Pakistan became victim of worst climate change of the century and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared that the flood was the worst disaster he had ever seen. According to figures 3.2 Million people affected by devastating flood and more than 1500 people died. Agricultural and Live stock loss from this calamity was colossal, it is estimated that Pakistan lost crops worth $ 15 Billion due to flood and approximately one-fifth of Pakistan’s total cultivatable land was underwater, approximately 796,095 square kilometers.

Mohammed Ibrahim Moghul, chairman of Agri Forum Pakistan revealed that rains destroyed 500,000 metric tons of wheat, 300,000 acres of animal fodder and 100,000 head of livestock. Flood waters also destroyed 700,000 acres of planted cotton, and 200,000 acres each of rice and cane. News Reports indicated that over 200000-400000 livestock died from the flood and thousands of people related to livestock industry became unemployed due to deadly floods.

Pakistan is agricultural economy and mainly dependent upon Agriculture, thus damage to agriculture crops can trigger food shortages causing inflation rising steeply. Flood has destroyed farmlands, water reservoirs and seed deposits. According to United Nations food program these widespread shortages are causing malnutrition, especially in children. It has been indicated that at least 72000 children were affected from malnutrition due to flood. World Health Organization (WHO) also reported that ten million people were forced to drink unsafe water.

According to WHO ( World Health Organization) Report issued three months back flood affected areas of Sindh are showing acute malnutrition rates of 23.1 per cent among children between the ages of 6 and 59 in northern Sindh and 21.2 per cent in southern Sindh. The rates are well above the UN World Health Organization’s (WHO )15 per cent emergency threshold level, which triggers a humanitarian response, UNICEF said in an update. Records from northern Sindh revealed a severe acute malnutrition rate of 6.1 per cent. The Sindh provincial government estimates that about 90,000 children aged 6 to 59 months are malnourished.

Now the question is what is the solution of this serious problem?… Dr Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary (Director International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences) (ICCBS), University of Karachi (KU), recently mentioned during a conference held at ICCBS that Bio technology can be a very good solution of food shortage. Bio-Technology can be used to modify genes of different plants to create new food species of desired nutritional properties.

If Pakistan Government wants solve our country’s food related problems than it has to do something and Bio Technology is one viable option. However special funds should be allocated in budget to cater the needs for setting up research organizations in this regard. very little has been done in past few years. The National Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) has been playing its role in country’s major biotech research, with major researches into plant, environmental, and medical biotechnology.

Thus Pakistan has significant opportunities to deal with food crisis produced by the climate change if government is ready to pay attention towards this grave issue.

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Sajid Azam

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