Economy, Asia - Pacific

Latest farming technologies attract young entrepreneurs in Pakistan

Rooftop and hydroponic farming give opportunities to explore more environmentally friendly options

Kiran Butt   | 14.05.2022
Latest farming technologies attract young entrepreneurs in Pakistan FILE PHOTO

LAHORE, Pakistan 

With alarm bells ringing all over the world over global warming, new farming technologies are helping the young generation reduce waste and keep the Earth healthy.

A survey by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in 2018 found that some 39% of the country's labor force was engaged in agriculture, with the sector contributing 18.5% to the national GDP.

But in recent years, young people have been moving away from agriculture to avoid the long hours of hard work involved.

One young farm entrepreneur, however, said the use of cutting-edge technology in agriculture could help reverse this trend.

Naseer Fayyaz, a 30-year-old farmer who settled in the small city of Chishtian in the northeastern province of Punjab, has started using updated seeders, water-saving irrigation techniques, and other unique methods of farming to attract the younger generation.

"I completed my bachelor of arts (degree) and after graduation, I realized that many of my classmates left for the cities to pursue corporate jobs, rather than helping their families boost their farming business with the latest technologies," he told Anadolu Agency on the occasion of World Farmers Day on May 14.

While helping his father in the fields, Fayyaz started growing crops on his rooftop while saving his earnings to start a hydroponic farm, in which the crops can be grown in a room provided with suitable light and an ecosystem.

Underlining that farming is a profitable business, with rooftop farming being less costly and organic, Fayyaz said that the hydroponic variety needs "more investment."

Growing your own food

Imtiaz Hussain, the deputy director-general of the National Agricultural Research Centre in the capital Islamabad, said vegetables grown on a person's roof or garden are the best that they can consume.

"Even on the farms, they use a specific quantity of pesticides and other chemicals. There's no alternate in the sense of safety and nutrition to organic farm products that people grow by themselves," Hussain told Anadolu Agency.

Other than the healthy lifestyle it provides, organic farming also cuts down on food bills.

"If everyone started growing their own fruits and vegetables, this would reduce the pressure on production by farmers and would lower food costs for people, as well. Every person on earth should learn how to grow their own vegetables," said Fayyaz.

Problems discourage young farmers

In countries like Pakistan, where agriculture policies are not farmer-friendly, it is understandable that many have been switching to the corporate sector.

Sikander Bhadera, a seasonal farmer whose family has been in the farming business for generations said: "We still aren't able to cope with the latest technologies that the world is adopting.

"Besides the rest of the problems (we face), the main issue is that here in Pakistan, the markets or government decides the final rate of our products, which is very unfortunate," he added.

Appreciating the efforts of young farmers like Naseer, Bhadera called on the government to help others like him access the technology they need and provide subsidies to import the latest seeds to increase yields.

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