Naseer Ahmad Gilani, Chief to the Water Resource Section, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, has said that wo do not take into consideration environmental issues and seeds security in our deliberations on water, agriculture, and economic policies which is a very serious and crucial topic.
He was answering a question on “bankruptcy” of our seed bank at consultative meeting on “Water-related Sustainable Development Goals and their Implementation Framework,” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute recently. Dr. Waqar, Deputy Executive Director, SDPI, conducted the proceedings.
Gilani said that japan is investing six to seven times more on agri-production due to its commitment to environmental considerations. He promised to raise issue of seed security with the government on this.
He said that dependence on F-1 and GM seeds also shifts financial resources from South to North because farmers have terminated seeds which do not germinate next year.
Earlier in his talk, Gilani said that we manipulated data on every count in the past. He said that sanitation should be our second priority. He said Gujranwala is now the Hepatitis City of Pakistan.
He proposed integrated water resource management. Awareness of citizens needs to be increased who waste drinking water in washing and irrigation, he said that largest drinking water source Manchar Lake is now dry.
Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director of the SDPI, highlighted importance of water in agriculture, industry, exports and energy sector, he said that if we do not have clean drinking water and use bottled mineral water in the federal capital, one can imagine the gravity of situation in provinces and other remote areas with marked disparity. We have become a water starved country, he said. The trans-boundary issues between provinces and neighboring countries are sensitive and we have to come up with some solution.
Dr. Suleri said that cost of water in basmati rice exported is like exporting water. He also stressed the need of water conservation. He said innovative water recycling techniques can be adopted.
Shafqat Kakakhel, Chairperson of the SDPI Board of Governors, said that Pakistan has a looming water crisis and challenges include fast dwindling per capita availability of water. Deteriorating water quality is also a serious issue for agriculture and health. He said that water storage is only for 30 days which is manifold in other countries. He said that we are slowly moving towards Genetically Modified food which has benefits as well as harmful effects. We do not have satisfactory regulations about GM seeds, he concluded.
Politician and Analyst Jan Achakzai said that the more we indulge in agriculture, the more there are chances of political misgivings at local level as well as between provinces. He said that Bangladesh has taken over us.
In the question hour, Dr. Mahmood A Khawaja from SDPI said that to handle unhygienic practices, we should not go for imported solutions and use our indigenous solutions and conventional wisdom.