Pakistan has taken a significant step towards enhancing modern agro-farming by establishing the Land Information and Management System Center of Excellence (LIMS-CoE). This state-of-the-art facility aims to utilize over 9 million hectares of uncultivated state land and boost agricultural productivity. To support this initiative, Saudi Arabia has provided an initial investment of $500 million.
As an agriculture-based economy, Pakistan contributes 23 percent to its GDP and employs 37.4 percent of the labor force. However, the country faces recurring economic hardships, with productivity remaining below par. Factors such as a decreasing cultivation area, a population-production gap, and significant agricultural imports amounting to $10 billion have posed challenges to the sector.
According to the World Food Program, approximately 36.9 percent of Pakistanis are food insecure, with 18.3 percent experiencing severe food crises. The country is grappling with a shortfall of 4 million metric tons in wheat production against a total demand of 30.8 million metric tons, while cotton production has declined by 40 percent to around 5 million bales over the past decade.
Major General Shahid Nazeer, who heads the LIMS-CoE, highlighted the investment from Saudi Arabia, stating, “As far as the high-efficiency irrigation system is concerned, Saudi Arabia has already given us [Pakistan] $500 million.” The LIMS-CoE, established under the Director General Strategic Projects of the Pakistan Army, aims to revolutionize agricultural development through real-time information on land, crops, weather, water resources, and pest management, all under one roof.
The center will collaborate with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and China on various agricultural projects to enhance Pakistan’s exports. A high-powered Saudi delegation is set to visit Pakistan in the coming days to explore investments in agriculture, mines and minerals, information technology (IT), and defense production. This investment will be facilitated under the recently established Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), which aims to revive the Pakistani economy.
Nazeer emphasized that the LIMS-CoE aims to ensure food security and optimize agricultural production in Pakistan by leveraging innovative technologies and sustainable practices based on the agro-ecological potential of the land. The center’s objectives include reclaiming uncultivated waste land, developing a master plan for modern farming, implementing state-of-the-art agriculture management practices, adopting digital and precision agriculture, utilizing technology to enhance yield, and providing an effective decision support system.
The LIMS-CoE has already initiated modern agro-farming projects in Punjab, focusing on the use of certified hybrid seeds. Efforts are underway to foster joint ventures with multinational companies, which can lead to significant dividends. Hybrid seeds, produced through deliberate cross-pollination of genetically diverse plants, offer a 30-50 percent increase in yield. While the world predominantly uses hybrid seeds (80 percent), Pakistan currently lags behind, utilizing only 8 percent.
The establishment of the LIMS-CoE and the investment from Saudi Arabia signify a crucial step in Pakistan’s agricultural development. By leveraging advanced technologies and strategic partnerships, the country aims to overcome agricultural challenges, boost productivity, and ensure food security for its population.