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Hilal English

Unlocking Agricultural Prosperity: The Land Information and Management System Initiative

January 2024

The Special Investment Facilitation Council has launched the Land Information and Management System (LIMS) to identify uncultivated arable land in Pakistan. LIMS has identified around five million acres of such land that can be cultivated, as well as vast desert areas that can be utilized with proper preparation.

It is a well-known fact that Pakistan is an agricultural country, with more than 60 percent of its population dependent on agriculture. Despite this, the country has to import more than three million tons of wheat every year. There are several factors contributing to this situation in the country. One significant aspect, often overlooked and based more on hearsay, is the lack of knowledge about the soil. This knowledge includes information related to the correct timing for cultivation and harvesting, the requirements of the soil–water, quality of seeds, fertilizer, etc.–that can help economize resources, obtain information about weather conditions, the need for pesticides, and more.
In an effort to revolutionize the country's economy, Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) has undertaken numerous initiatives, one of which is the Land Information and Management System (LIMS). This system was established to identify arable land that has remained uncultivated to date. Throughout the country, approximately five million acres of such land have been identified by LIMS, which can be cultivated but have been ignored. Additionally, there are vast stretches of desert land that can be brought under cultivation by leveling the area, providing water, and planting crops based on soil requirements. This initiative promises a bright future for the youth of the country by motivating them to participate in the national growth. 
There is no denying the fact that if we are able to cultivate this much land, it can change the fate of Pakistan. It can reduce, and even eliminate, our dependency on the import of staple grains and address the food security issues we are currently facing. LIMS has introduced a special mechanism to improve the situation by launching the website www.limspakistan.com, which provides a one-stop destination to the problems faced by farmers. The areas of improvement identified by LIMS include the method of precision farming, where farmers, using modern tools and gadgets, can determine the exact requirements of their land.
The system designed by LIMS is the one followed by most developed countries in the world. This system was tailored to meet the needs of small farmers, ensuring that the effects of improvement can occur at the grassroots level. Although the implementation of this system is time-consuming, it can be anticipated in the near future. Given its capacity, it is believed that this year, more than one hundred thousand acres of arable land will be brought under cultivation, and this figure is expected to increase to more than one million acres in the next two to three years. There is a significant amount of state-owned land available in all the provinces of Pakistan where the process has already begun. The land is being utilized by survey parties that identify the land's potential and recommend the appropriate crops for cultivation based on climate and soil conditions.
By deploying a satellite-based information system and using precision cultivation methods, a small farmer can realize numerous benefits to include rationalization of usage of water, fertilizers, pesticides, and seeds to achieve yields that are significantly higher than their current production. In other words, a farmer can reduce costs to nearly a quarter while increasing yields three to four times. The website, www.limspakistan.com, is live, currently providing real-time information about land to more than 27,000 farmers. LIMS has taken the following important steps towards guidance of the farmers:
▪  Identifying state land that is arable and can be effectively utilized for cultivation.
▪  Allocating the available land to farmers under long-term agreements of twenty to thirty years.
▪ Launching the website www.limspakistan.com, through which farmers can obtain real-time information about their land.
▪ Conducting an extensive campaign to engage farmers and help them obtain precise information about their land.
▪ Providing guidance and expert opinions to government departments on agriculture aspects.
▪ Collaborating with government departments, research institutes, and universities to synergize and convert it into a national effort.
To reap the benefits from the resources, all a farmer has to do is log into the website www.limspakistan.com, register their land, and connect with the latest information and management system. At the national level, LIMS has the largest land information system, carrying approximately 50 terabytes of data.

Throughout the country, approximately five million acres of such land have been identified by LIMS, which can be cultivated but have been ignored. Additionally, there are vast stretches of desert land that can be brought under cultivation by leveling the area, providing water, and planting crops based on soil requirements. This initiative promises a bright future for the youth of the country by motivating them to participate in the national growth.

 The basic requirement for cultivation is the knowledge of soil condition–mineral content, nutrient levels, and other organic material content. The next step is to determine which crop would be most profitable to cultivate. Then comes the knowledge of water requirements, fertilizer needs, and pesticide use, including identifying areas susceptible to pest attacks (only the affected area is identified to save on pesticide). At www.limspakistan.com, a farmer can access all this information with just one click. What is even more important is that this service is free for small farmers. Quite rightly, this concept has been termed as the 'Farm on the Palm’ concept, where, by using a mobile phone, the farmers can obtain information of their land. Broad contents of the website include: 
Precision Agriculture. It is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops.
Vegetation and Water Stress Monitoring. Variation is detected using remote sensing in order to monitor the crop health and identify areas of water stress.
Recommendations for Fertilization and Irrigation. Based on the stresses, optimum requirement of fertilizers and irrigation is recommended for the crops.
Disease and Pests’ Prediction. It is to accurately knowing the level or development trend of a certain disease in a certain period.
Crop Classification. Crop classification refers to which crops are grown. Crop plants can be classified according to their structural features (botanical), agronomic use, biochemical pathways, life cycle (ontogeny) and climate requirements.

Given its capacity, it is believed that this year, more than one hundred thousand acres of arable land will be brought under cultivation, and this figure is expected to increase to more than one million acres in the next two to three years.

Decision Support System for Agriculture. A Decision Support System (DSS) is a computer-based information system that supports agriculture or farmer’s decision-making activities.
Yield Modelling and Prediction. An accurate crop yield prediction model can help farmers to decide on what to grow and when to grow.
Optimal Crop Rotation Plan. Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crops in the same area across a sequence of growing seasons.
The participation of youth in these ventures is highly encouraged through utilization of their academic qualifications and application of knowledge by harnessing the immense energies they possess. LIMS has taken an initiative in this regard by asking the universities to provide the details of students, who are willing to contribute towards the agriculture sector of the country by applying innovative ways and means that they have learned. As a pilot project, they intend to acquire services of 300 fresh graduates from agriculture and IT sectors, provide them with stipends to apply knowledge on ground to cultivate crops using modern and innovative techniques, and help them to come up with improved and efficient yields.  
Farmers today face several challenges, primarily related to the availability of quality seeds with maximum yield and the conservation of fertilizers, which have become more expensive over time. These challenges reduce the profit margins for farmers and hinder the optimization of the soil's potential. LIMS is addressing these issues by bringing national and international institutions related to these fields together on one platform. In essence, all the available research and agricultural data have been consolidated into a single forum. The claim of SIFC being a one-stop destination for investors is being truly realized here.
Another challenge in such initiatives is sustainability, which has also been addressed by making the system holistic and all-encompassing. By utilizing the existing infrastructure and bringing together the elements related to agriculture on one platform, LIMS has made the system more efficient, effective, and long lasting. On the one hand, this approach ensures the availability of information to all the relevant departments simultaneously, and on the other hand, it guarantees sustainability. Under Advanced Electronic Guidance and Instrumentation System (AEGIS) of SIFC, LIMS' policies and regulations have been made more effective and comprehensive, aligning with international standards.
In a nutshell, by providing real-time information to the agriculture departments and the farmers, the digital platform of LIMS can revolutionize the farming in Pakistan and can help increase the crop production exponentially. What a farmer needs to gain more profit from the land is economizing the cost and enhancement in production. Just by obtaining correct information about the land, both these objectives can be achieved simultaneously. However, providing quality seeds to farmers is a significant challenge for LIMS and the associated government departments in case we aim to increase crop yields. LIMS has formulated a potent committee to ensure the availability of quality seeds for cultivation and it is expected that this year, we will not have to import wheat. 

Farmers today face several challenges, primarily related to the availability of quality seeds with maximum yield and the conservation of fertilizers, which have become more expensive over time. These challenges reduce the profit margins for farmers and hinder the optimization of the soil's potential. LIMS is addressing these issues by bringing national and international institutions related to these fields together on one platform.

Being part of the national effort, it is the responsibility of every citizen to come together and collaborate with the initiatives of the government in order to capitalize on this awakening if we wish to accelerate the pace of improvement in the system.
The enhancement of the quality of life in Pakistan hinges significantly on a substantial uplift in the agriculture sector. Such a boost would not only amplify productivity and yields but also foster the well-being of small-scale farmers. Integrating the youth into this endeavor holds immense potential for augmenting agricultural output and consequently elevating the country's economic status.

The author is a PhD scholar in Management Sciences with extensive experience in Project Management.