Seed technology of Pakistan requires a paradigm shift and the country needs to learn from other nations how it can add value to its seeds to build resilience to climate change, diseases and pests, said Minister for National Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam.

Speaking at a webinar titled “China-Pakistan Agricultural Cooperation and Prospects”, organized by the China Economic Net and The Express Tribune, the minister said that Pakistan should establish seed banks so that seeds from other countries could be stored there.

He stressed that Pakistan needed to learn from China’s expertise in the agriculture sector. “China has performed exceptionally well and raised its cotton production by a huge margin,” he told the webinar participants. “Pakistan used to produce a mammoth amount of cotton but unfortunately we have fallen behind now.” The minister emphasized that Pakistan should learn hybrid seed production from China because currently it was importing high-yielding rice seeds from Beijing.

In March 2020 Pakistan and China had signed a memorandum of understanding to make technology and agriculture part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

“With all the measures the government is taking to facilitate investors from China, we hope that relations between the two countries will deepen in future,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Board of Investment Secretary Fareena Mazhar pointed out that the agriculture sector represented a fifth of Pakistan’s economy, however, the output had been declining for the past few years and pointed out that 64 out of 313 tariff lines included in the second phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement were related to agricultural products. Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Director Market and Trade Research Office Zhai Xueling said that cooperation between Pakistan and China in the agriculture sector had solid foundations. “Comparative advantages are at play on both sides. Pakistan has low-cost labor while China has the technology to aid the agriculture sector of Pakistan,” she said. National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ehsanullah Tiwana held the opinion that improvement in agriculture was the only way for expanding Pakistan’s economy. He lamented the bureaucratic hurdles in the sector as quality seeds failed to reach farmers. “We are making efforts to introduce a policy, which will result in agricultural surplus,” he said.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong said that China and Pakistan had jointly established communication channels for business-to-business cooperation and information sharing.

“This will encourage both sides to invest in seed industry, agricultural material, agricultural industry and agriculture product processing,” he said.