ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a food security hackathon have called for innovation for food security and regional trade in agriculture through bridging ideas and funding partnerships.
They highlighted the significance of collaboration, technology, and sustainable practices in ensuring food security in Pakistan.
The hackathon was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with the Canadian High Commission and National Incubation Centre for Aerospace Technologies, says a press release.
Air Commodore Dr Tauseefur Rehman of National Aerospace Science and Technology Park (NASTP) said his institution had taken the initiative to introduce precision agriculture technologies in Pakistan.
The project, he said, involved a consortium of stakeholders, including the public and private sectors, with a focus on drones, supercomputing and advanced sensors.
He highlighted the collaborative approach, involving universities, defence organisations and private companies to address gaps in the agriculture sector.
High Commissioner of Canada in Pakistan Leslie Scanlon highlighted Canada’s commitment to supporting projects globally, particularly in Pakistan, focusing on food security and climate-resilient agriculture.
She emphasised Canada’s contributions to the Green Climate Fund and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, along with efforts to promote science-based policies for genetically modified agricultural products.
Overall, she expressed enthusiasm for the hackathon and encouraged innovative solutions.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri warned that climate change was affecting the agriculture sector of Pakistan, and according to UNESCAP, Pakistan might lose more than 9pc of its annual GDP due to climate change.
He said extreme weather conditions would pose a serious threat to the food security of Pakistan in the future. Hunger Index 2021 indicates that Pakistan ranked 92 out of 116 countries.
Mr Suleri said Pakistan might face an existential threat if appropriate measures were not taken immediately to address food insecurity issues.
Trade integration with the region provides an opportunity to access a broad range of food products and reduces dependency on limited resources or locally produced goods, he said.
Trade in agriculture has also been termed important in recent research by the SDPI due to the positive spillover impacts for services sub-sectors such as transport, warehousing, and retail distribution hence cementing the linkages between food security and job creation, he added.
Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director SDPI, said: “To turn a winning hackathon idea into a successful startup, it’s important to refine the idea, validate it, build a prototype, create a business plan, secure funding, network, and execute and iterate.
“This is what SDPI, Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, and the National Incubation Center for Aerospace Technologies aim to make easy for our youth. We also wish to forward winning ideas from the hackathon to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, if some of the ideas can be funded through development budgets or public-private partnerships,” he said.
Head of Centre for Private Sector Engagement of SDPI Ahad Nazir explained the hackathon’s objective to address local food security challenges while exploring regional trade opportunities.
Project Director of the National Incubation Centre for Aerospace Technologies (NICAT) Imran Jatala highlighted their focus on aerospace, aviation and deep tech.
Acknowledging the significance of the hackathon in addressing Pakistan’s food security challenges, he emphasised the role of technology and innovation in achieving national development.
© 2023 SDPI. All Rights Reserved Design & Developed by NKMIS WEB Unit