Agri transformation plan a revolutionary initiative: PM’s aide

RAWALPINDI: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema on Tuesday said the PM’s Agriculture Transformation Plan was a revolutionary initiative which aimed at taking conventional agriculture to the level of commercial agriculture.

Addressing a seminar on ‘Prime’s Minister Agriculture Transformation Plan: Targets and the Way Forward’ held at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR), Mr Cheema said agriculture sector development was among the top priorities of the government.

PMAS-AAUR Vice ChancellorProf Dr Qamaruz Zaman, Executive Director Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Dr Abid Qaiyum Sulehri, Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) chairman Dr Muhammad Ashraf, PMAS-AAUR deans and directors and faculty members were also present on the occasion.

Mr Cheema said the government policy of agricultural transformation not only ensured food security but also addressed physical nutritional needs of every citizen of the country.

He said there was a dire need to improve nourishment of people as well as animals in the country because each person across the world consumed 210kg of fruits and vegetables almost every year while in Pakistan per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables was 63kg.

Says dire need to improve nourishment of people as well as animals

“Each individual all over the world consumes 370kg grains whereas in Pakistan it was 200kg. Similarly,40 million tonnes of feed is required for our animals while we are producing 13 million tonnes,” he added.

The PM’s aide said the government was allocating various districts for different crops under which the problem of water would also be controlled and imports would be reduced by increasing production of agricultural commodities.

Highlighting the prime minister’s policy on agricultural transformation, he said Pakistan would eliminate soybean imports by 2024 and Gilgit would be the next agricultural hub of the country.

He appealed to the faculty and students of the university to go beyond facilitation and promote applied research, bring new quality products to the market, create new and good seeds and invent cheap ways to save water.

Dr Abid Qayyum Sulehri said Covid-19 pandemic had created a crisis of health, economy and malnutrition in the world, which had severely affected even a strong economy like the United States. As a result of the successful strategy of the government, Pakistan survived these three crises, he added.

Highlighting the importance of the relation between education and industry, he said both were guarantors of Pakistan’s development. He appreciated the programmes being run by the university, which were a result of the hard work of the faculty and administration.

PCRWR Chairman Dr Mohammad Ashraf said Pakistan’s national security was linked to food security which showed its importance. He said most of the water was used in agriculture in Pakistan which was depleting Pakistan’s water resources and this needed to be addressed on war footing.

He said to solve the water problem, regional distribution of crops in Pakistan needed to be strictly adhered to. “This will not only solve the water problem immediately but will prevent shortage of commodities,” he added.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Qamaruz Zaman appreciated the efforts of the government for providing special package for agricultural development and informed the gathering that PMAS-AAUR had already launched various programmes for this purpose in which research teams consisting of faculty and research students had been formed to strengthen the academic and industrial linkage and promote the culture of applied research.

He further said PMAS-AAUR was offering short courses in Khushab under the government’s successful youth programme, which would not only provide employment to the youth but also moderate the agriculture sector.

He said that Ten Billion Tree Honey Tsunami was a boon to the coming generations for which there was no alternative.

“Trees will not only reduce air pollution but also generate huge foreign exchange through the development of the honey industry,” he added.

Later, Jamshed Iqbal Cheema inaugurated the Tissue Culture Lab, National Centre for Industrial Biotechnology, Animal Research Station. A demonstration on precision agriculture technology was also arranged and the vice chancellor explained the efficient usage of modern technology to the special assistant.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2021

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