PESHAWAR – Though the agriculture sector of Pakistan was facing multiple threats but the extent of damage caused by the uncontrolled weeds was usually more than that of insects and diseases. According to official estimates, Pakistan was suffering Rs 260 billion annual financial losses and 20 to 40 percent decline in yields due to weeds.
The participants of a three-day 16th National Weed Science Congress on “Vegetation Management and Agro-Biodiversity; Trends and Implications” on Friday called for adopting eco-friendly methods and conducting of bio-pesticides researches to control weeds and protect the environment from getting polluted by toxic sprays on herbs.
The congress was organized by Agriculture University Peshawar and was attended by national scholars, experts and students while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister Shaukat Yousafzai was the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony.
The participants said that weeds utilize sunlight, water and fertilizer and provide sanctuaries to insects which help in spreading the disease in almost all crops, adding bio-pesticides research could help control the weed production.
Provincial Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai in his address said that the central and provincial governments were focusing on agriculture and the purpose of holding such conferences was to share the research work done by agricultural experts.
He said that such platforms were essential for learning from others and added, research should not be kept limited to books, but once completed, should be passed on to the government so that the recommendations could be used.
He said that majority of the population in the country lived in rural areas and they were dependent on agriculture and it was imperative to increase the crop production adding, if we increase production, we will be self-sufficient in food.
Shaukat said that the PTI government, as per the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, was focusing on building new dams to generate cheap electricity and give boost to agriculture and industrial sectors.
He said that whatever suggestions are made here should be conveyed to the government so that these could be used.
Earlier, welcoming the guests, Prof. Dr. Jahan Bakht, Vice Chancellor University of Agriculture Peshawar, said that the growing population and expansion of societies were also posing threat to agricultural production.
He appreciated the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Provincial Ministers Shaukat Ali Yousafzai and Khaliq-ur-Rehman for bringing a law to ban commercial activities and societies on agricultural land.
He said that the Agricultural University Peshawar was focusing on quality education, bio-pesticide research work and best training for students and teaching faculty. Soon an incubation center would be set up for students to prepare them for future challenges, he added.
Former Vice Chancellor of Agricultural University Peshawar and President of Weed Science Society Pakistan Dr Khan Bahadur Marwat said that Pakistan is losing Rs 260 billion annually due to weeds and herbs. He emphasized on setting up Weed Science Institutes and developing the workforce at the grassroots level to cope with the emerging challenges.
Secretary Higher Education Department Daud Khan said that the objectives of the conference were very important as these would greatly help in increasing crop production in the country. “Global food security is a huge challenge. Weeds reduce crop yields and result in billions of dollars in annual losses. Pakistan is an agricultural country but unfortunately, no significant work was done in the field of agricultural research during the last two decades,” he said.
He said the present government was focusing on researchers and providing funds for research therefore the students and teaching faculty should take advantage of it.
Dean Faculty of Crop Protection Sciences Prof. Dr. Ahmad-ur-Rehman Saljuqi and Chairperson Department of Wade Science and Botany Dr. Saima Hashim also addressed the gathering.
Experts from across the country, including Director Colleges Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Zahoorul Haq and University of Punjab Agricultural Scientist Prof. Dr. Arshad Javed were also present on the occasion. Shields were also distributed among the speakers at the end of the event.