The overly increasing world population is casting a question that how to feed this gigantic population in sustainable way? To get the answer, work and research are in continuity at different food levels right from field to food.
Pakistan ranks 5th most populous country in the world and food for such a massive population largely comes from Agrifood sector. The major share of Pakistan Agrifood industry (Crops, Livestock, Poultry and Aquaculture) is from rural and peri-urban population that run small scale farming units to meet their needs and earn livelihood. Agrifood sector is in transformation phase to meet the consumer demand with value added products.
The population increase applies direct pressure on the Agrifood industry to meet the protein demand with sustainable use of resources. This can be achieved with centralized focus on sustaining and nourishing plant, animal sources to serve as quality food for human consumption and considering their and environment welfare.
4F’s – FIELD, FEED, FARM, FOOD covers the four food levels and serves as a value added model of working with intend to improve plant, feed and quality food through innovation and science. Modern farming technology driven practices are opening new secrets for the farmers for achieving efficiency, profitability and sustainability. Efficient working at each level of 4F’s Model can result in bigger turnovers
FIELD – this level deals with crop raising, and is of prime importance. In Pakistan, Crops are raised in the rural areas by the locals having traditional knowledge of farming. They are practicing open flooded system to raise crops resulting in poor water uniformity, long irrigation events and over irrigation, because of low literacy rate are unaware of the water scarcity issue that Pakistan would be facing in near future. Water and energy issues in crop raising need to be deal with more attention in order to cut the cost. Spatial information serves as key factor to ensure crop quality, having the right knowledge about the soil quality is vital for agri farming. Soil management options and guidance on other issues like labor shortage, unskilled workers, lack of quality standards knowledge and uneven plantation should be addressed. Agronomics should be provided with solutions and training to enhance the productivity without compromising the quality and build efficient model of working.
FEED– One of the biggest challenge of the agri industry is FEED which is key component of different agri sectors like Livestock, Poultry and Aqua, constitutes about 70% of the overall production cost. The substantial use of key ingredients to make feed to meet the protein demand of livestock, Poultry and Aqua is alarming and require to explore other alternative as feed source to avoid food chain disturbance and attain sustainability.
Nutritionists are more focus towards formulating feeds that are cost effective and will be produced from sustainable resources. Major challenges in the feed industry includes rising cost, reducing indigestible fractions and achieving feed efficiencies. To address these challenges food innovations are the future that can help attain feed efficiencies and improved animal performance.
FARM – At this level there is great room for development to ensure maximum productivity in a well-managed operations. Most farmers are doing farming at small scale and don’t practice the modern methods of farming. An interest to adapt modern technologies and method has been witnessed at big farming units and they are expanding their operations to meet the production standards and providing quality products. Farm of agri sectors require proper infrastructure, functioning plans and management guidance. There is a need to develop the small scale farming unit and make them efficient enough to cash their production potential. Sensing the challenges faced at farms and introducing monitoring and daily checkups practices can be beneficial to farmers in term of attaining efficiency, productivity and profitability.
FOOD– The end product to be tabled for the human consumption, has to be traceable, nutritive and should meet the quality standards. Now a days people are very much conscious about how their food being processed and does it has quality? Quality and nutrition are the factor in food processing that should not be compromised in food. Understanding the consumer needs and desire for food and providing them with the quality products is the responsibility of the producers.
Pakistan agriculture contributes 19% of total GDP and employs 42% labor force. The performance is subdued because of water scarcity, climate change and slow rural transformation pace. AgriFood sector potential is still unexplored, with more innovations, efficient working models, trained workforce on each level and overcoming the challenges, greater outcomes can be achieved.
Dr. Shahzad Naveed Jadoon