Speakers at international seminar on Monday said that trilateral relations among Pakistan, Afghanistan and United States in agriculture will help alleviate hunger and poverty from the region as 58 percent of the population in Pakistan is under grip of food insecurity and majority of our population is associated with agricultural sector.
They were addressing an inaugural session of five days International Workshop titled Strengthening Extension Skills of Young Professionals in Afghanistan and Pakistan arranged by the University of Agriculture Faisalabad in collaboration with USAID. The resource persons from US and extension workers from Afghanistan and Pakistan were among the participants. The session was presided over by UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan. National Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (NAPHIS), Director General, Ministry of National Food Security and Research Division, Malik Zahoor Ahmad was chief guest while Prof Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik from Forman Christian College Lahore and Dr James Hill from University of California, Davis, USA were guests of honour.
Malik Zahoor Ahmad said that Pakistan was blessed with blazing talent but the need of the hour was to come out of the box and work with devotion with the adoption of latest agronomic practices and producing quality researches keeping in view the need of the farming community. He said that famers are smart and they accept only that technologies which bring tangible results for them. It is the matter of grave concern that the country was relying only on old knowledge. Anyhow, some efforts were being made in generating new development keeping in view modern era demands. He said that it was not necessary that a technology which was successful in the United States would work here because of agro ecological system and other factors. We have to promote researches compatible to our system. He added that heavy funding was available by donor agencies so it was must to produce quality research work to attract investors.
Quoting the example of Australia, he said that they faced the drought for ten years but they remained food secure by overcoming crisis with switching over their agronomic practices mechanism accordingly.
Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said USAID was setting up three Centers for Advanced Studies in Pakistan including Food security, Energy and Water to cope with the challenges and it was privilege for us that the university was selected for the establishing of Centre for Advance Studies (Agriculture and Food Security). He added that the center would help ensure end to hunger and providing enough food to the country. He said that the University was not only best university in the field of agriculture in the country but also standing at the 3rd number in all universities across the country according to the Higher Education Commission. He stressed the need to enhancing skills of agricultural extension workers as by giving proper awareness to farming community about latest techniques and agri practices, we can not only overcome the state of food insecurity but also earn money by exporting it.
Prof Dr Kausar said that as many as 75 per cent of the world’s poor live in rural areas and most work in agriculture so that agricultural growth is the main engine for poverty reduction. He said that Cross-country econometric evidence indicates that GDP growth generated in agriculture has large benefits for the poor and is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth generated by other sectors. He said that main issues of the agriculture are increasing cost of production, slow adoption of technologies, and climate changes that must be addressed
Dr James Hill said that the one billion population of the world is facing the food insecurity that was a biggest challenges. He said that his country was committed to uplifting the sector of agriculture in Pakistan and Afghanistan under trilateral cooperation. He said that it was the era of information technology and we had to get the benefit from each other experiences. He said that the skills extension workers could the fate of farming community by giving them proper awareness and the workshop was also a step toward it. He said that his country promoted the activities to the development of the agricultural sector keeping in view fighting hunger from the region.
Trainers Dr Jerry Peter, Dr Chuck Schuster, Dr Kevin Murphy, Dr Grant Dewell and Dr Louise Ferguson introduced themselves at the inaugural session.
ORIC, UAF Director Prof Dr Rao Asif Ali and Executive Director Endowment Fund, UAF Dr Tahir Zahoor also spoke.