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Food ministry wants agriculture sector under one umbrella

Food ministry wants agriculture sector under one umbrella

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Food Security and Research in an upcoming meeting with the prime minister will make the pitch for the reunification of all agriculture-related segments under one umbrella, the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council’s (PARC) chairman said on Tuesday.

Addressing the inaugural session of a workshop aimed at raising awareness for water evaluation, testing and treatment, Dr Yusuf Zafar said the government recently created a separate ministry for water to address the issues and challenges confronted in this regard. “We hope such rational approach will also apply to the agriculture sector.”

He said although the government considered agriculture as the backbone of the economy, funds for research and development remained meagre.

Despite having the capabilities and capacity of learned scientists in the agriculture sector trained from best institutions of the United States, Pakistan was still dependent on donor countries, he regretted.

On the usage of water for agriculture, Mr Zafar said water wastage was still higher in Pakistan despite capacity building. He cited an example from Balochistan where apple cultivation suffered due to the mismanagement of water.

An efficient irrigation system could, however, bring positive changes in this regard, he said and referred to the Potohar region where the production of grapes and olives was picking up.

The workshop, organised by the United States Department of Agriculture and International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, was first in a series. The water-resource workshops, conducted by three experts from the USDA, are being held in Islamabad this week to support the Pakistan Water Dialogue Project.

According to a statement issued on Tuesday, 85 senior officials and technical experts from the federal and provincial ministries, universities, and non-governmental organisations are attending.

The US government has launched the second phase of the water dialogue project to help rural farmers. It builds upon the management practices developed in a previous project of watershed rehabilitation and irrigation practices project.

According to US Embassy’s agriculture counsellor, David J. Williams, 18,000 farmers have already been trained in water management practices. The project helps farmers to more efficiently capture, store and use water for agriculture, he said.

Mr Williams told the participants that the project helped farmers to more efficiently capture, store and use water for agriculture.

The experts leading the workshops are Michael Kucera, an agronomist at USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service; Jon Fripp, a Stream Mechanics civil engineer at USDA’s Const­ruction and Soil Management Centre; and Hilary Landfried, a programme manager with the US Foreign Agricultural Service’s Office of Capacity Building and Development.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2017

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