The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) launched a new project to expand the use of modern technologies in Pakistan’s agriculture sector. “Boosting Pakistan’s economy is one of our top assistance priorities. That’s why this project will work to modernize agricultural practices to increase the production and quality of livestock and horticultural goods. This in turn will enhance economic development in the country,” said USAID Country Director Jonathan M. Conly at the launch of the project in Islamabad on March 8.
Innovative technologies, introduced in Pakistan with support from the U.S. Government, spurred the Green Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. The adoption of improved rice and wheat varieties, combined with strategic policies and investments, led to a doubling of yields and output in those two decades. With investment in research, Pakistan transformed its agricultural sector into a driver for economic growth.
Currently, Pakistan’s agricultural sector is growing at a much slower pace than other sectors. “Pakistan’s agricultural productivity has fallen behind comparable countries with similar agro-ecologies,” said Thomas Lumpkin, Director General of CIMMYT. “There is a tremendous potential for growth, but we must act now.”
Through its new four-year, $30 million project, USAID will sponsor research to encourage adoption of new technologies in agriculture, such as laser land leveling, zero tillage, residue management, introducing short duration legumes into rice-wheat cropping systems, and custom service systems for machinery. The project will also offer short and long-term training. The U.S.-funded project will be implemented by CIMMYT and PARC in cooperation with the International Livestock Research Institute, the World Vegetable Center, the International Rice Research Institute, and the University of California, Davis.
Promoting economic growth is one of the many ways that the United States is helping to create a brighter future for the people of Pakistan. The United States funds large-scale energy projects that will provide electricity to two million households by the end of 2013. The U.S. has rebuilt and renovated 800 schools and has provided scholarships to 12,000 students to attend universities in Pakistan. And the U.S. is helping to create jobs and increase incomes with programs that boost agricultural output, build roads, and help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.