Digital farming essential for smart agriculture revolution in Pakistan

‘Integration of IT and agriculture will bring about third green revolution: agricultural digital revolution’

BEIJING   -  China is willing to share its experience and help integrate information technology and agriculture to being about green revolution in Pakistan.
Facing the common challenge of climate change, pandemic, and population growth, a smarter agriculture is the way forward for many countries including China.
“The integration of information technology and agriculture will bring about the third green revolution: agricultural digital revolution,” said Zhao Chunjiang from China’s National Engineering Research Centre for Information Technology in Agriculture. “By 2025, China’s digital agro economy will exceed a USD 100 billion.”
In the past, farmers laboured for hours in the fields. But now farm work can be done with internet systems, said a staff member of the exhibitor, Ningxia Green Pioneer (Lvxianfeng) Agricultural Mechanical Services Company, which has transformed local farming model with drones, precision hole-sowing machine, driverless harvesters and plant protecting devices, remote surveillance equipment, etc supported by the Internet of things, cloud technology, big data, etc.
“Spraying at a speed of 4.5 meters a second, each drone can complete what was used to be done by 25-30 workers per day, saving 80 percent water, 30 percent cost of plant protection, and 20 to 25 percent pesticides,” company staff introduced to China Economic Net (CEN). “They can be used in rice, wheat, and maize. Take rice as an example, about USD 60 can be saved for each hectare.” 
To better take the advantage of the efficient digital equipment that excels on vast stretches of land, the company takes a step further to push forward scale operation by bring the scattered lands together through land trusteeship, transfer, and shareholding.
A remote monitoring command service centre has been set up for visible, standard, and digital farming. Soil, seedlings, pests, diseases, and disasters are monitored, early warnings are sent in case of abnormalities, and automatic solutions can be identified. From sowing, cultivating, to harvesting, the crops grow under close and accurate supervision. 
“Under this whole-process land trusteeship, USD 230 can be saved per hectare,” revealed the company staff. “Not all farmers trust in this new model at the beginning, but after getting to know and see what it can achieve, they started to acknowledge its benefits.”
“If there is a chance, we are willing to join the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under CPEC,” company staff said.

Pakistan inches toward a digital future amid fruitful BRI cooperation
Over the years, countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) including Pakistan have collaborated to explore the Digital Silk Road and reaped fruitful benefits in this regard.
This was stated by Li Yikai, Deputy Director of Centre for International Economic and Technological Cooperation, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China (MIIT), at the 2021 Online Silk Road Conference of the Fifth China-Arab States Expo held in China’s northwest city of Yinchuan.
Li added, “From 2019 to 2020, there are notable achievements in digital development in BRI countries. For example, the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) was deployed in Pakistan’s airports, providing accurate timing services for the operations.”
Apart from the cooperation in the satellite navigation system, digital cooperation in other areas also abounds between China and Pakistan.
According to media reports, the China-Pakistan Cross-border Fiber Optic Cable was completed in July 2018, marking the first cross-border terrestrial cable directly connecting China and Pakistan. The 820km cable, which spans from Urumqi to Rawalpindi through the Khunjerab Pass at the China-Pakistan border, is reported to boost bilateral digital connectivity, a real facilitator of the telecom and ICT industry in Pakistan.
Applications of digital technology can also be noted between the two countries. Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China’s Wuhan Landing Medical High-tech Co, Ltd to introduce its artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted diagnostic technology for screening cervical cancer in Pakistan, a disease that can affect millions of women in Pakistan.
With 18 years of experience in the IT sector at Ericsson (China), Shoukat told CEN that such bilateral digital cooperation will go even further. “Pakistan has launched the Digital Pakistan campaign, and China has been a global leader in the digital sector especially 5G. So there is a lot of space for mutual cooperation in this regard.”
He added, “Pakistan has a lot of potential in the IT sector. When Pakistani IT talents have the opportunity to venture abroad and work in countries like China, they will definitely bring very good results.”

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