Ministry of IT and UN Sign Agreement to Develop Agriculture in Pakistan

Ministry of IT and Telecommunication, and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations have virtually signed a framework collaboration agreement for the development of the agriculture sector of Pakistan using information technology.

Shoaib Ahmad Siddique, Secretary IT & Telecommunication and Minà Dowlatchahi, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative virtually signed the agreement while sitting in Pakistan and Italy respectively.

To control the spread of coronavirus, social distancing is imperative, the Ministry of IT is performing all its functions through ICT. The online signing of the collaboration agreement with FAO is an example of performing official duties while ensuring social distancing. FAO country representative in Pakistan signed the agreement while she was located in Italy one of the worst-hit countries by coronavirus.

Shoaib Ahmed Siddique said that agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy as it contributes around 20 percent in the overall gross domestic product (GDP) and is also a big source of employment.

Low growth, water shortage, environmental concerns, volatile energy prices, rising expectations of consumers – these are some of the complex challenges the agriculture sector is facing today, in the face of diminishing production profit margins for farmers.

He said the Ministry of IT & Telecommunication will do everything to resolve these challenges through technology by bringing innovative solutions for increased yields and profit margins for farmers by diminishing the role of middlemen.

Federal Secretary Ministry of IT and Telecommunication Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui and representative of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of UN Mina Dowlatchahi signing framework collaboration agreement between Ministry of IT and FAO to jointly work for development of agriculture sector of Pakistan by using information technology in Islamabad on March 25, 2020.

On the occasion, the Federal Secretary Ministry of IT Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui also expressed grief over the loss of precious lives due to coronavirus in Italy and expressed sympathies for deceased families. He prayed to almighty Allah to end this pandemic from the world and save humanity.

Minà Dowlatchahi thanked the Federal Secretary Ministry of IT for his kind words.

She said that innovation in agriculture in Pakistan is a necessity — small farmers are not only food producers, they are consumers and also guardians of Pakistan natural resources: soils, water, biodiversity, and seeds. Eighty percent of arable land is in small farms in Pakistan while the vast majority still uses outdated agriculture systems.

Innovation in agriculture cuts across all dimensions of the production cycle along the entire value chain – from crop, forestry, fishery or livestock production to the management of inputs and resources to market access.

It is time to help small-holder men and women farmers in Pakistan innovate at scale, adapt to climate change, increase their incomes and contribute to the transformation of Pakistan agriculture systems and contribute to sustainable and inclusive food systems and healthy diets in the country.

Through the framework collaboration agreement, both organizations have vowed to collaborate in the formulation and execution of local and/or national projects in Pakistan. These projects will benefit sustainable and inclusive agricultural and food systems (agriculture, livestock, forestry, aquaculture) to contribute to achieving zero hunger and poverty eradication.

Both FAO and MOITT through Ignite will share materials such as statistical information, software, and maps, made available by the FAO or MOITT/Ignite for use in the activities under this collaboration agreement.

Both organizations jointly agreed to host the “e-Agriculture Innovations Challenge” in Islamabad to address the pressing challenges facing the agriculture sector.