Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam on Monday welcomed the $250 million EU development program which will focus on uplifting the agriculture sector of Pakistan.
Taking to Ambassador of European Union Androulla Kaminara, who called on him at his office, the minister welcomed the EU development program of $250 million which primarily focuses on the uplifting the agriculture sector of Pakistan via programs aimed at horticulture, water conservation and hydropower generation, livestock development and human resource development especially basic health facilities for women and children of the rural areas such as Tharparkar and Umerkot.
The minister praised the status of European Union (EU) as a leading region of the world. He said that EU has only 5.8% of the world’s population and yet they generate 18% of global GDP which stands at US $17 trillion in 2021. Fakhar said that Pakistan needs to benefit from the experience of EU with respect to the modernization of agriculture and up-gradation of value addition in agricultural products.
European Union’s Ambassador Androulla Kaminara said that the EU is eager to collaborate with Pakistan to upgrade the agricultural sector in addition to enhancing human development of farmers in the rural areas of Pakistan. She said that the EU is already investing in up-gradation of agriculture and livestock research systems in Pakistan but wants to expand its scope in collaboration with the ministry of national food security and research. The ambassador said that half of the development package of $250 million focuses on the development of the agriculture sector and the human resource associated with this sector.
Ms Kaminara said that EU is leading projects that aim at providing veterinary support, availability of water, basic medical health services to women and children in the rural areas in addition to the provision of alternate farming opportunities that can reclaim arid land. She said that EU can provide technical support such as the provision of satellite imagery to assess the topography of Pakistan for effective and efficient farming.
Fakhar said that Pakistan faces a number of challenges but with the right policy interventions in collaboration with EU, the agriculture sector can be transformed. He said that Pakistani agriculture has been tottering along with the traditional agricultural techniques and it is time that we start to look ahead to the future in terms of modernization.
He said that there are pertinent issues of quality of soil, quality and cost of input and choice of seeds that need to be focused on an emergency basis. He said that Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of milk but only 7% of that is processed. He said that value addition is one of the primary issues that needs to be addressed in the agriculture sector.
The minister praised the current governments’ efforts and said that in the last 70 years the main setback to research was insufficient funds. He added that this is the first time in the history of Pakistan that under Prime Minister Initiative Program billions of rupees have been invested in agricultural research which has led to record production of wheat, maize and rice last year.