Representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and FAO presented a new geo-spatial system for forecasting crop yields to the Federal and provincial government officials on Wednesday, October 29 at Serena Hotel in Islamabad. The new system will increase the accuracy and decrease the costs of data collection on crop yields each year. “Crop yield forecasting is essential for the government to plan the country’s export targets and ensure food security, especially for the two major crops: wheat and rice,” said FAO Representative for Pakistan, Mr. Patrick T. Evans.
Pakistan is a major player in the global commodities market. A poor year in production of wheat or rice in Pakistan can have an impact on global food prices and lead to increased spending both worldwide and in Pakistan, thus reducing food security in the country. If the government knows that the yield of wheat or rice is going to be low, it can arrange measures to prevent food shortages. Similarly, if the yield of cotton (which is a major export crop in Pakistan) is expected to be low, the country can either import cotton to keep our factories running, or adjust export targets and the plans for that year’s budget spending accordingly.
“The geo-spatial crop forecasting systems that FAO has installed at SUPARCO, the Crop Reporting Services of Punjab and Sindh, as well as the Agriculture Universities in Faisalabad and Tando Jam, is an example of the skills and knowledge our country needs to strengthen our role in the world’s agricultural markets and to strengthen the food security for our people,” said Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Mr. Malik Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan.
The new system was procured and installed by FAO, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at SUPARCO in Islamabad, the Crop Reporting Services of Punjab and Sindh, the University of Agriculture Faisalabad and the Sindh Agricultural University Tando Jam. Work was done under the USDA-funded FAO “Pakistan Agriculture Information Systems” project which works to improve the quality of agricultural statistics in Pakistan using geospatial information.
With U.S. funding, FAO provided the software and hardware for the crops monitoring system and trains staff at SUPARCO, as well as at the Crop Reporting Services of Punjab and Sindh to support the adoption of satellite imagery data and for more accurate forecasting of crop yields.
In addition to the officials of FAO and the U.S. Embassy, the workshop included representatives of the federal government and the governments of all provinces and regions of Pakistan, as well as SUPARCO, Crop Research Services, academia, farmers and the media. Specialists from FAO headquarters in Rome, and the University of Maryland also attended the event.