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Biotechnology to serve future food needs

March 28, 2006

FAISALABAD, March 27: The biotechnology is the only available option to cater to our future food needs while the National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) is playing its due role in providing skilled manpower in this cutting edge technology.

This was stated by Ayub Agriculture Research Institute (AARI) director-general Dr Khalid Husain Gill while speaking to participants of the inaugural ceremony of the fourth national training course on modern techniques in biotechnology at NIBGE here on Monday.

Underlining the importance of the biotechnology, he said it had its roots in prehistoric age when human beings switched over to tilling to meet its food requirements.

He said that increased yield, improved quality and cutting down of the production cost were our main objectives. Genetically modified crops had the potential to increase the crop production up to 250 per cent to meet the increasing world population.

Denying the notion that small farmers could not grow genetically modified crops, he said that only in China over three million small farmers were making use of this modern technique and thus playing a major role in meeting their food requirements.

Mr Gill welcomed the training course and said that it would provide trained manpower to undertake new projects in biotechnology to increase farm production.

He urged upon the course participants to avail of this opportunity to fully understand the biotechnology. It would help them to independently conceive and implement the target-oriented projects in biotechnology, he said.

NIBGE director Dr Yousaf Zafar in his welcome address said the NIBGE was the premier national institute promoting this cutting edge technology.

As a policy measure, we were also sharing knowledge and information with other scientists, he said and added that the NIBGE was proud of offering M. Phil and PhD courses in biotechnology in affiliation with Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

He said that 12 batches had so far graduated from this institute while a number of training courses of different duration were being arranged regularly.

Course organiser Dr Fauzia said the use of biotechnology in agriculture, health, livestock, industry and environment had multiplied its importance.

However, she said, due to limited resources only 24 candidates had been selected out of the total 100 applicants. Out of these 11 belonged to various universities and colleges which would help in further dissemination of this knowledge to the younger generation. A comprehensive course manual had been prepared, including 22 lectures and nine practical sessions. This course would conclude here on March 31, she said.

Meanwhile, Dr Khalid Gill said that agriculture projects should be designed for the benefit of farming community.

Talking to a delegation from Australia, he emphasised the need for strengthening cooperation between Pakistan and Australia for the betterment of agriculture sector in both countries.

He said the exchange of expertise with Australia would help boost the agriculture research and contribute significantly in solving the emerging problem.

The foreign delegation is visiting Pakistan to attend a mango workshop at Multan under the Australian-Pakistan Agriculture Sector Linkages Programme.

The visiting delegation inquired about the agriculture research and extension linkage system in Pakistan. It also suggested specialised extension approaches to strengthen the extension system in Pakistan.