Pak-China working together for agricultural mechanization
by Wang Kai
“Slow adoption of mechanization technology has been a key reason for low yields and inefficiencies in agriculture in Pakistan, resulting in lower profit for farmers”. said Dr. Muhammad Waqar Akram, a lecturer in the Department of Farm Machinery and Power, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.
He is attending Modern Agriculture Workshop of China-Pakistan Regional Innovation Institute for Modern Agriculture organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China and undertaken by Jiangsu University. The five-month workshop, starting from the end of March, provides inclusive training on the usage and maintenance of modern agricultural machinery, field management, water saving irrigation, food processing, etc.
According to Dr. Muhammad Waqar Akram, There are no updated existing proper studies or surveys conducted on the present status of farm mechanization in Pakistan. However, according to rough studies, the utilization of Agricultural machinery and adoption rate is very low.
“In Pakistan, farm mechanization has been limited to few basic tools for land preparation and outdated models of combined harvesters when harvesting grain crops”, he said. Infusion of the right mechanization technology will be crucial for the productivity increase and growth of agriculture in Pakistan.
In his opinion, the machines that should be popular and common in Pakistan are related to rice, cotton, maize and sugarcane crop as these are the major crops of Pakistan, but usage of machinery for these crops is very less or zero, for example, planters for cotton, maize and sugarcane crops, transplanter for rice crop, cotton picker for cotton crop, maize harvesters, sugarcane harvesters, drone spraying technology, etc. The planters and harvesters/diggers for vegetables and other crops also has huge potential to be applied in a wide scope.
He also noted that due to the seasonal nature of the agriculture, the farm machinery remains idle for much of the time. incurring unnecessary high costs unless proper alternate use of such machinery in the off-season is made. To cope with this situation, multi-crop planters and multi-crop harvesters have huge potential to be applied in a wide scope.
Lack of awareness, low standard manufacturing of agricultural machinery, lack of repair and replacement facilities especially in the remote rural areas, absence of standardization of agricultural machinery, and weak knowledge transmission are hindering Pakistani farmers to reap the benefits of modern agricultural machines.
Small sized farms and scattered land holdings prevail in Pakistan. “For Pakistan, I think small scale machinery is one of the best options in terms of existing average farm size and affordability of farmers. Another possible option could be development of machinery pools for availability of expensive machines at rent in towns and villages”, he recommended.
The usage of modern machinery can bring a variety of benefits to farmers: enhanced efficiency of operations, precise application of different inputs, reduction in the cost of production, enhancement in the production quantity and quality of produce, timeliness of operations, increased cropping intensity due to timely operations, increase in the area under cultivation through development of culturable wasteland, reduced dependence on labor, reduced labor drudgery, etc.
“I am highly interested in collaboration with Chinese researchers on the development of modern agricultural machinery. The China-Pakistan Regional Innovation Institute for Modern Agriculture inaugurated on Mar. 28 will provide a facilitating platform”, he added.