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Around 41 million hectares of the 80 million hectares of land in Pakistan is considered marginal or arid, with little to no agricultural or industrial value due to poor soil or other undesirable characteristics. These lands have been on a path to desertification over the last few decades due to climatic and social factors. As a result, Pakistan is expected to face a food shortfall of about 70 million tonnes.
Currently, most investment in Pakistan has been directed towards irrigated agriculture, while marginal lands remain neglected. However, these lands have the potential to contribute to the livelihood and food security of poor communities. By following the example of agriculturally advanced countries like Italy, it is possible to develop poor soil lands to alleviate poverty.
Investing in research and development (R&D) in marginal lands will be crucial for future food security, as these areas have the potential to provide food to feed the growing population. Additionally, agricultural research for marginal areas can generate opportunities for targeted crop species essential to the livelihoods and food security of the poor.
Technological advancements in the agriculture sector of countries like Italy, Spain, and China can be beneficial for developing countries like Pakistan. These advancements can help optimize water and other farm inputs and reduce production costs for small landholders. However, the initial investment in such technology can be expensive for small farmers, so establishing farm machinery centers for renting out expensive tools may be a viable solution.
The Italian Trade Agency has been working in Pakistan for the last 30 years to encourage business-to-business meetings and establish contacts between the private sectors of both countries. Italy provides advanced technology solutions, and Pakistan can benefit its economy by developing close cooperation in this sector with Italy.