Digital farming essential for smart agriculture revolution in Pakistan
by Wang Kai
YINCHUAN, Aug 21 (China Economic Net) - Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister of Pakistan’s National Food Security and Research, stressed the immense benefit brought by China’s “modernised agro economic system” while addressing the Conference of Modern Agriculture Cooperation, which is part of the 5th China-Arab States Expo held in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northwestern China yesterday.
“I hope this conference will be a major transformation of modern machinery technologies”, he envisioned.
Modern agricultural machinery and technologies taking advantages of digital progress has become an imperative for Pakistan, where 84% of land is classified as arable and agriculture accounts for 26 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), but the rural population, which represents the backbone of the agricultural sector, is comprised mainly of small-scale farmers who lack access to modern farming technologies and machinery, according to a Climate-Smart Agriculture survey in Pakistan.
“During the past two decades, the country faced the effects of weather extremes, such as devastating floods (2010 and 2014), drought (1998-2002), heat waves, cyclones, smog and temperature extremes. It is imperative that recent technologies are adopted to develop climate smart farming systems and agricultural approaches in the country to achieve sustainable production and food security”, concluded a conference co-hosted by MNS University Multan and FAO.
Facing the common challenge of climate change, pandemic, and population growth, a smarter agriculture is the way forward for many countries, including China.
“The integration of information technology and agriculture will bring about the third green revolution: agricultural digital revolution”, says Zhao Chunjiang from China’s National Engineering Research Center for Information Technology in Agriculture. “By 2025, China’s digital agro economy will exceed a USD 100 billion”.
In this regard, China has and is willing to share its success stories.
On the Green Food Exhibition of the Expo, automatic sprayers and harvesters are attracting audiences with their fast speed and convenient operation.
“In the past, farmers laboured for hours in the fields. But now farm work can be done with internet systems”, said a staff member of the exhibitor, Ningxia Green Pioneer (Lvxianfeng) Agricultural Mechanical Services Company, which has transformed local farming model with drones, precision hole-sowing machine, driverless harvesters and plant protecting devices, remote surveillance equipment, etc. supported by the Internet of Things, cloud technology, big data, etc.
“Spraying at a speed of 4.5 meters a second, each drone can complete what was used to be done by 25-30 workers per day, saving 80% water, 30% cost of plant protection, and 20%-25% pesticides”, company staff introduced to China Economic Net (CEN). “they can be used in rice, wheat, and maize. Take rice as an example, about USD 60 can be saved for each hectare”.
Spraying drone [Photo provided by Ningxia Green Pioneer Agricultural Mechanical Services Company]
To better take the advantage of the efficient digital equipment that excels on vast stretches of land, the company takes a step further to push forward scale operation by bring the scattered lands together through land trusteeship, transfer, and shareholding. A Remote monitoring command service center has been set up for visible, standard, and digital farming. Soil, seedlings, pests, diseases, and disasters are monitored, early warnings are sent in case of abnormalities, and automatic solutions can be identified. From sowing, cultivating, to harvesting, the crops grow under close and accurate supervision.
Remote monitoring makes farming visible and digital. [Photo provided by Ningxia Green Pioneer Agricultural Mechanical Services Company]
“Under this whole-process land trusteeship, USD 230 can be saved per hectare”, revealed the company staff.
“Not all farmers trust in this new model at the beginning, but after getting to know and see what it can achieve, they started to acknowledge its benefits”.
Automatic harvester saving human labor [Photo provided by Ningxia Green Pioneer Agricultural Mechanical Services Company]
“If there is a chance, we are willing to join the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under CPEC”, company staff said.