Enhancing agricultural productivity to tackle food insecurity

Nearly 800 million people in the world go hungry owing to the lack of reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. In Pakistan, the victims of food insecurity are small holder farmers and rural populations in general who largely depend on agriculture to make ends meet and feed their families.

As Pakistan’s population continues to grow, concerted effort and innovation will be urgently required in order to sustainably increase agricultural production, enhance the local supply chain, reduce food losses and waste, and ensure that all who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition have access to nutritious food.

Read More: Ensuring Food Security in Pakistan

The livelihoods of most food-insecure households worldwide are mainly based on agricultural activities. It is also believed that growth in the agriculture sector, on average, is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in other sectors. Pakistan’s economy being primarily agriculture in character has seen a drastic decline in the production of staple crops, such as wheat, rice and cotton, due to natural disasters, volatile security situation and low economic growth. As a result, the national nutrition survey 2018 points out that an estimated 37 percent of the population faces food insecurity.

Presently, Pakistan is grappling with lower-than-expected levels of food output and therefore needs to import key food items like oil, wheat, pulses, sugar and tea. This rising food insecurity poses a threat to future prosperity.

World leaders at the 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) reaffirmed the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger. Food security and agriculture play a key role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Engro’s commitment to strengthening the agri-food sector

Amidst all of this, Engro Corporation has been actively working on its initiatives to improve rural livelihoods through sustainably increasing agricultural production and sales and enhancing food security for the poor. It specifically targets low-income and vulnerable rural populations empowering them to effectively pursue profitable agricultural activities and break free from the cycle of poverty.

Pests and pathogens are also a major obstacle when it comes to achieving sustainable agricultural production at elevated levels. To eliminate this hurdle, Engro Fertilizers which is a subsidiary of Engro Corporation and a premier fertilizer manufacturing and marketing company and BASF have entered a strategic partnership to launch Sefina TM insecticide by BASF in Pakistan, to help the country’s farmers better protect their crops from pests and improve crop yields.

Read More: General Tariq Khan – CEO FFC, talks Food Security in Pakistan

Made from natural sources, Sefina is a novel and innovative insecticide that is registered for use on cotton and other vegetable crops in Pakistan. It offers a new mode of action for the control of key piercing and sucking insect and pests, such as Whiteflies, Whitefly nymphs, Aphids and Jassids, that pose a major threat to these crops. Powered by BASF’s new active ingredient Inscalis® and higher efficacy, Sefina gives farmers a powerful new tool to combat resistance, as part of integrated pest management programs.

Engro Fertilizers has the widest portfolio of products and services covering the full Seed-To-Harvest spectrum with continuous focus on balanced crop nutrition and increased crop yields.

“We are very excited about partnering with a global player like BASF, who shares our vision of transforming the country’s agricultural landscape and helping farmers grow,” said Nadir Salar Qureshi, CEO, Engro Fertilizers Limited. “In Pakistan, farm pests pose a serious threat to cotton and other vegetable crops, distressing agricultural productivity and national food security. Along with BASF’s unique chemistry, we will be able to apply our experience and industry insights to provide crop protection solutions that help growers boost yields and income.”

“BASF is committed to helping Pakistani farmers and the agriculture sector to maximize its potential and produce healthy, high-quality crops safely and profitably. Advanced solutions such as Sefina allows growers to achieve better yields in a more sustainable manner. Engro is the perfect partner to help us bring this technology to Pakistan,” said Faisal Akhtar, Managing Director, BASF Pakistan.

BASF has been present in Pakistan for five decades and offers innovative solutions to Pakistan’s most important business sectors. It maintains offices in Karachi, and Lahore. You can read more about BASF by visiting its website www.basf.com/pk

Plant diseases and pests are widely considered an important cause of crop losses, and sometimes a threat to the food supply. It is expected that Sefina would help curb this threat and would allow farmers to increase and diversify production to produce a wide variety of foods that enhance nutritional outcomes.