Project launched for usage of modern technologies in agri sector

 The US 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.

PARC Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad said that with the strengthening of relations between CIMMYT and PARC, country’s agriculture sector will boost and particularly enhance wheat and maize production during a high level foreign CIMMYT delegation visit to NARC Campus headed by Dr Tom Lumpkin.

The PARC chairman also earmarked site for Establishment of CIMMYT office in Pakistan at NARC Islamabad PARC and the Mexico-based CIMMYT announced the launching of the four-year $30 million Agricultural Innovation Project (AIP) in Islamabad.

The AIP will be implemented in earnest on April 1, and run through March 31, 2017. In this ceremony USAID, Islamabad Mission Director Jack Conlyn, Representative of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research secretary, PARC chairman, CIMMYT Director of Global Wheat, H J Braun, Provincial DGs Agri Research and Extension and their Representatives, VC of Pakistani’s major agri universities, representative of several ongoing USAID projects, USAID Michael Wyzan, Alan Davis Director of EGA at Islamabad and many other eminent Pakistani scientists were present.

The project will also include expertise from sub-awardees International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), University of California (UC), David and PARC.

Dr Ahmad said that AIP’s overall objective is to promote economic growth by brining more farms, and more acres, under improved technologies and management practices and to increase the productivity and production value of livestock, horticulture, and cereals. The project will foster the creation of a demand-driven, result-oriented agricultural research community and enhance linkages between Pakistan’s agricultural research community, the global community or scientists and Pakistani private sector and civil society.

He further said that the CIMMYT will be the primary implementing partner and prime grantee, managing and taking responsibility for the overall program and overseeing the cereal systems portfolio. The ILRI will manage and support the livestock portfolio, while AVDRC will play a similar role in annual horticulture, IRRI will do for rice, and UC-Davis will have responsibility for human resources development and perennial horticulture. Importantly PARC will be oversee the competitive grants component along with providing leadership in the formation of organization similar to the Punjab Agricultural Research Board in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan.

“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. Innovative technologies, introduced in Pakistan with support from the US 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 CIMMYT Director General Thomas Lumpkin. “There is a tremendous potential for growth, but we must act now.”

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 US has rebuilt and renovated 800 schools and has provided scholarships to 12,000 students to attend universities in Pakistan.

And the US is helping to create jobs and increase incomes with programmes that boost agricultural output, build roads, and help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

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