Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, All Karachi Industrial Alliance and Former Provincial Minister Mian Zahid Hussain said climate change had become a major threat to Pakistan’s national and food security.
Despite the severe water shortage in the country, more than half of the water is being wasted, which must be stopped, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that foreign companies interested in supplying wheat to Pakistan are buying rice worth billions from Pakistan. If the barter system is adopted, valuable foreign exchange can be saved.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that Pakistan imported $12 billion worth of wheat, pulses, cotton, etc., despite being an agricultural country, last year. Still, not enough attention is being paid to increasing local production, which is astonishing.
He said that domestic resources do not allow the repair of the irrigation system, which is in shambles; therefore, foreign investment in this sector is the only option for which incentives, diplomacy, and better security, must be adopted.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that Pakistan is very dependent on the irrigation system. Still, the condition of irrigation infrastructure is pitiful, which needs to be improved on a war footing to improve agricultural production and ensure food security and prosperity of the farmers.
He noted that the irrigation system provides at least 40 million acres of water but half of which is wasted, which could fill many dams like Tarbela and Mangla.
The flow of Indus and its tributaries has been 151,800 cusecs this year as against the last five-year average of 264,000 cusecs; the intermediate storage of water in dams this year has been 148,000 acre-feet as against the average of 2.4 million acre-feet in the last ten years, he informed.
Such a severe shortage of water is a matter of grave concern and a sign of impending famine, he said, adding that Pakistan loses 20 billion dollars of water every year and the water situation may worsen in the future; therefore, immediate and effective measures are needed to save and store water.