Caretaker Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Dr. Kausar Abdullah Malik has emphasized the need for focusing technological needs of small-scale farmers who majorly contribute to food security and export earnings.
The minister was addressing a conference on ‘Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Agriculture’, jointly organized by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research at HEC Secretariat on Thursday.
Researchers, agricultural scientists, faculty member and students from agricultural universities participated in the conference, which comprised two technical sessions entitled “Application of AI in Agriculture”, “Application of AI for Food Security” and a panel discussion on “Priorities for Policy, Ownership and Resources of AI in Agriculture and Food Security”.
Dr Malik highlighted the challenges posed by climate change and food security amidst the growing world population. He stated, “Integration of Artificial Intelligence in agriculture is not just an option but it is a strategic imperative to address these challenges head-on.”
He said that accumulation of data and utilizing it is of the extreme importance to mark remarkable growth in the agriculture sector, which is the largest industry of Pakistan. He asserted that the academic community has a great role in the development of agriculture in Pakistan and the work of all the universities in this sphere is applicable to the sector.
The minister said that Artificial Intelligence has a huge contribution to the cause of a sustainable agriculture sector of Pakistan. “Artificial Intelligence is a beacon of hope in transforming the agriculture landscape of Pakistan,” he concluded, assuring that the government is committed to leveraging cutting-edge technologies for the advancement of agriculture in the country.
Earlier while welcoming the participants, Chairman HEC Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed acknowledged the important role of universities in keeping Pakistan considerably away from the hazards of food scarcity. However, he identified administrative issues as a grave challenge in enhancing collaboration among the academia, agriculture sector experts, farmers, and the national entities working on the development of agriculture sector. He stressed the need for consolidated efforts of HEC, Ministry of National Food Security, Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination, Pakistan Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), and other relevant stakeholders.
In his remarks, Executive Director HEC Dr. Zia Ul-Qayyum termed the lack of collaboration among the relevant stakeholders, including academia, industry, agriculture scientists, research organizations, and technology experts as the most important challenge to address for effective utilization of AI. He underlined the need for synergizing and coordinating efforts being made to cope up with the contemporary needs of agriculture sector. He emphasized the significance of multi-disciplinary research and applied projects to meet pre-set targets while addressing the challenges facing the sector. “The footprint of solution lies in sitting together,” he concluded.