‘Scientists need to keep on being innovative to counter climate change’

MULTAN: Chairman, International Cotton Researchers Association (ICRA), Dr. Michell Fok said that scientists need to keep

being innovative or think differently to develop new modes of cultivation for agriculture to smartly adapt to ecological environment.

The seasoned foreign agriculture researcher said this while talking to reporter after signing an MoU on behalf of ICRA, a subsidiary of International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), with Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC), last Monday at Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI) Multan. Cotton Commissioner and Vice President PCCC Dr. Khalid Abdullah had signed it on behalf of PCCC.

Pakistan will be hosting the ICRA secretariat for next few years after PCCC was selected from among the many research organizations as contenders from around the world.

Dr Fok, who has been working for 34 years at CIRAD, a French research organization dedicated to agriculture developing in tropical and sub-tropical areas, said, he knew that cotton production in Pakistan was not increasing as much as Pakistanis may want in the face of very big demand from textile industry. And Pakistan also facing the challenge of CLCV, more infestations from Mealy Bug and so on.

“Its a challenge for the scientists to keep on being innovative, or may be, think differently, to think about new modes of cultivation so that cotton growing could adapt to or be in face with the whole ecological environment”, said Dr. Fok.

“And pests belong to this environment. They are here to grow with their presence under the constraints that their damage remains at acceptable level,” he said.

He said, it was the duty of scientists to carry out new ways of dealing with these pests.

When asked about climate change, Dr. Fok said it was occurring all over the world as an on-going phenomenon.

“Climate has not changed”, he said explaining: “Its change has not finished. It is changing and we do not know how it changes exactly and to which extent it will change.”

“So, it is furthermore difficult to adapt to something that has not totally finished.”

“There is a debate in the international arena about making agriculture more climate smart. Smart in adapting to challenge which is occurring and being smart so that through our actions we will not keep on feeding the factors which are influencing the change of climate”, he added.

He said the problem has been felt at the international level and events have been organized to share experiences.

Dr. Fok disclosed that some principles were being laid down for climate smart agriculture and added: “I think that cotton production could get inspiration from these principles so that Pakistani scientists could contribute in carrying out new cultivation techniques that help farmers adapt to climate more and more in certain and not feeding the factors of climate change.”

He said ICRA initiative should be helpful to Pakistani scientists and they should avail it to have frequent interactions with the researchers from around the world. “I hope there will be contributions from our Pakistani colleagues.” They should launch discussions and discuss ideas and submit them. It will push researchers from other countries to contribute as well, he added.

“So what I have in mind, someone, some country has to start and I hope our Pakistani colleagues will start first.”

When asked how many scientists a country should have, he said there was no magic formula to indicate what should be the number. He said, he did talk about researchers in China where there are research institutes even at district level. China is a huge country with a long history of agriculture and it invested a lot in cotton research.

He said, he used to visit China every year, and there, he added: “I realized that the social status of scientist is quite good and this is an incentive for people to be effective, more efficient.”