Despite experiencing a cooler March this year, experts have issued a warning that Pakistan and the rest of the region could be under significant threat from climate change-driven hazards. These hazards, if not addressed, are likely to have catastrophic effects on the country’s agriculture and living conditions. It is becoming increasingly evident that climate change is taking a toll on Pakistan’s agriculture sector, impacting crop yields and productivity.
Last season, domestic olive oil production was estimated at 70 million tonnes, a significant decrease from the output of over 100 tonnes during the corresponding period of the previous year. The availability of olive fruit for value-added products was also recorded at over 100 tonnes. The local output of olive oil saw a reduction of 30 percent due to rising temperatures during the flowering stage and torrential rains, both influenced by the impact of climate change.
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the government, in collaboration with the Italian government, has launched a program to train olive farmers in the country. The aim is to revive and develop local production of oil while protecting it from the impacts of climate change. This initiative also seeks to reduce reliance on costly imported commodities. Additionally, the government is working on promoting olive farming and has prepared a program to convert wild olives into productive olive plants, thereby increasing farm income for farmers in marginalized areas of the country. The third meeting of the steering committee on ‘Olive Culture’ was chaired by Italian Ambassador Andreas Ferrarese and the Secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research.
Officials from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination emphasized the importance of agriculture for sustaining life and the economy. They stressed the need for sustainable agriculture practices to address challenges such as low productivity and climate change. Agriculture serves as the primary source of food and raw materials for various industries, including textiles, pharmaceuticals, and biofuels. Pakistan, being an agricultural country, relies heavily on this sector, which contributes significantly to the country’s GDP and employs a large proportion of the population.
Agriculture currently contributes more than 23 percent to Pakistan’s GDP and employs 37.4 percent of the labor force. However, productivity is below par due to decreasing cultivation areas, climate impacts, a population-production gap, and annual agricultural imports amounting to $10 billion. Recognizing the severity of the situation, Secretary of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Muhammad Ishaq, highlighted the importance of addressing climate change impacts on agriculture to revive the sector and bring economic prosperity to the country.
Furthermore, the government has launched the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), aiming to exploit the full potential of agriculture and other domains. These efforts reflect a proactive approach in combating the effects of climate change and revitalizing the agricultural sector.
In conclusion, Pakistan’s agriculture sector is under significant threat from climate change. The government’s collaboration with international partners, such as the Italian government, to train olive farmers and promote sustainable agriculture practices is a step in the right direction. By taking proactive measures and implementing strategies to mitigate climate change impacts, Pakistan can work towards reviving its agriculture sector, boosting productivity, and achieving economic prosperity for the country.