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Modern tech must to increase Agricultural revenues
Tuesday, May-02-2017


The usage of new or modern technologies in agricultural sector have become imperative to achieve better results, especially for Pakistan where most of the economy dependent on agricultural output. Best management practices and improved policies in agriculture sector were being widely applied successfully now a days in developed world to increase outputs, farmers financial lot as well as to obtain self-sufficiency, experts said.
It is a known fact that Pakistan is an agricultural country and most of our economy depends on agricultural output. The same can be said about rural population which accounts for nearly all of agricultural production and about 63 percent of whole population. Pakistan boasts some of the most impressive numbers when it comes to output and the human resources involved in its agricultural sector. They said that first “we can look at how Pakistan’s agriculture sector is being utilized currently”.
Latest statistics have revealed that about 113 million people in Pakistan reside in rural areas. These people are also linked with agriculture in Pakistan. Pakistan has a semi-industrialized economy with a well-integrated agriculture sector. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, 43.5 per cent Pakistan’s labour force is involved in agriculture. The sector contributes a massive 21-25 per cent to country’s GDP.
Pakistan is among the top ten producers of wheat, cotton, sugarcane, mango, dates and kinnow oranges, and responsible for about 10 percent of the world’s rice trade. Livestock accounts for 40 percent of the sector and contributes 11 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Over 35 million people are employed by livestock sector.
Despite Pakistan being one of the top agricultural countries and continuously improving in its agricultural production, about half of the population is food insecure, according to the World Food Programme. The ever increasing population, struggling water resources, decreasing agricultural labor force due to urban migration, increasing demand for food and cash crops is putting significant burden on the agriculture sector as it has to meet the increasing local and international demands.
Not so long ago, Transparency Market Research (TMR) released a report, which predicted a noticeable increase in demand for agricultural robots for farming purposes. The migration of population from traditional agricultural lands is increasing demand for food in such areas which has promoted the need for more work force and precise farming. This is where farm robots come in.
According to TMR, major agricultural robots designed these days can perform singular tasks in categories including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (for the spraying of pesticides and agro- chemicals), Driverless tractors, Milking robots, Automated harvesting machines and more miscellaneous tasks. In long run, these robots can reduce labor force requirement, decrease costs, increase efficiency and boost the agricultural production.
In Pakistan with use of robot farming, the uncultivated land can be brought to use and current production can be maximized through automation and machine learning. On a similar note, livestock sector can also make use of robots to decrease expenses in long run and increase output. While most of the world is accepting robots for livestock sector, Pakistan is still working on a manual basis.
Some common robots in livestock and agriculture sector are: Driverless Tractors, Milking Robots, Automated Harvesting Machine, Egg collectors, Fruit Pickers, Harvesting Robots and Farm Maintenance Robots. Robots can also help in improving the quality and cleanliness of livestock and cultivation product. For example, robot milk farms are much more safer for health than manual ones.
Being an agri-centric state, Pakistan can also take a lead in robot production during its growth phase. Like Pakistan’s research departments on plant seeds and crop growth, if the government or the private sector funds research on farm robots, Pakistan could end up with a major share of the robot farming industry as well.
It is evident that the need for farm robots will increase and Pakistan needs robots to increase its agricultural output. Having a linked farming robot industry, with robots designed specifically for countries with conditions like Pakistan, could be an added benefit and boost our GDP by much more.
While robot farming is growing, it is not seeing rapid progress. The major factor behind it are the limitations of farm robots. Most robots are limited to a single task and current technology is still some time away from developing robots that could run unmanned farms. As with all upcoming products, the costs are quite high due to limited global demand and technical expenditure. Once parts become cheaper and are developed on a wider scale, the price will drop and farm robots will see a much wider adoption.
The possible issues of Robot Farming in Pakistan’s agricultural sector are that Technicians and Associated Professional account for just 0.06 percent of whole labor force while Plant & Machine Operators and Assemblers are a mere 0.31 percent of the force. The major factor here is the lack of consideration of agriculture related jobs. More educated people would also mean more technical experts but due to lack of jobs in rural areas, educated and technical personnel, which are already limited, head towards urban areas in search of better jobs.
Robot farms would need technical personnel to look after the working of the equipment and that is an issue amongst Pakistan’s less educated farmers. There is also a factor of limited funds as far as small and medium scale farmers are concerned. Such farmers make up a big chunk of the total output but most of them cannot even afford tractors.
Majority of farmers in Pakistan still have not adopted machinery, which is common amongst farmers in the west, so adoption of farm robots would need some wide-scale awareness campaigns, government funding and promotion of tech in agriculture. Pakistan, being one of the top producers of the most needed agricultural products, is slowly starting to lag behind the rest of the world in terms of efficiency. Steps need to be taken in order to promote technology in Pakistan’s agriculture sector.
Use of latest machinery and automated robots can help raise living standards of farmers and farm owners. The government and the private sector needs to assess huge potential of technical implementation in Pakistan’s agriculture.
Not only will it speed up product harvesting and in turn prevent produce from rotting before reaching its destination, it will also improve produce handling resulting in better quality items. In short, it means that use of technology could mean more income for farmers, more taxes and foreign reserves for the government.—APP

Courtesy Pakistan Observer

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