Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pakistan needs a new crop forecasting system

Ibrar ul Hassan Akhtar in  Like most developing countries, Pakistan is staring at the spectre of food insecurity, with its food production out of sync with population growth. The food availability scenario is further complicated by changing weather patterns with recurring severe droughts and floods that affect crop production.

For government officials trying to deal with food scarcity, these endemic problems are worsened by inaccurate agricultural statistics which lead to subjective decisions in dealing with food security.

A predominantly agricultural country with 174 million people, Pakistan still relies on an irrigation network developed during the British rule over the sub-continent with few additions like Tarbela and Mangla dams along with link canals. At independence in 1947, the irrigated area was around 10.75 million hectares, which has increased to over 18 million hectares [2]. The current crop reporting system of collecting agricultural statistics from over 22 million hectares of cultivated area and on crop acreage and yields, is outdated. It is also mainly based on land revenue records, and limited to Punjab province.

The country urgently needs to revamp its crop yields forecasting and estimation system, if it is serious about tackling its food security problems....

Farm on the outskirts of Hyderabad, shot by Farhan, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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