President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday said a paradigm shift in approach of the nations was needed to rise above mutual conflicts and instead save mankind by addressing the challenges of hunger and food security.
Addressing at the launch of collaboration between COMSTECH (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation) and UK-Pakistan academic network Sawie, he said amid the problems of growing population and climate change, the world needed to “rethink and lessen its footprint on global resources”. The event held in connection with the World Food Day themed ‘Our actions, our future’ in Islamabad at the COMSTECH gathered ambassadors of nine Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states, scientists and agriculturists.
President Alvi said besides defence and security, the phenomenon of food security had become increasingly significant.
“How can the nations spend billions of dollars on wars amid the looming threat of hunger,” he said, adding that a sustainable food system and water conservation were important in this regard.
The president said the growing population of Pakistan was facing the problems of malnutrition with its related complications including neonatal deaths, compromised health of women due to multiple pregnancies and stunted growth of children. For effective water management to ensure food security, he suggested practical steps by Pakistan and other countries such as reaching out to aquifers and incentivizing farmers to save water.
Dr Alvi mentioned that he had asked the food ministry to work on satellite imagery to better understand the crop mapping and increase yield. Adapting the seaweed farming, crop substitution and hydroponic farming could prove useful and profitable agricultural solutions, he said. He urged the COMSTECH to promote hybrid cooperation among all Islamic countries and exchange technology to find solutions to the challenge of food security.
Co-founder of Sawie, Dr Khalid Mehmood said Pakistan was facing a huge issue of food security due to climate change.
He said Sawie, meaning green in the local language, was aimed at food production at cheaper rates through the digital platforms for agricultural development, including remote agricultural sensing.
Coordinator General COMSTECH Iqbal Chaudhry said food insecurity and malnutrition were the challenges faced by the country’s population. He said COMSTECH in collaboration with Sawie would ensure conservation of resources and address the challenges of climate change, over population, and water scarcity.
Under the patronage of the President of Pakistan, he said, the COMSTECH had launched 120 development programmes, 500 scholarships for Muslim countries, and several healthcare initiatives.