The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) imparted agri business training to 64 specialists of agriculture ministries from Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Sindh and Balochistan to help strengthen their capacity building in the agriculture sector.
The 10-day training on modern techniques for farm-business and irrigation systems was sponsored by the United States government and the successful candidates were awarded training completion certificates on Wednesday. The main purpose of the training course was to help improve on-farm productivity and profitability, product quality, and water management.
Speaking on the occasion, USAID Country Director Jonathan Conley said that Pakistan holds lucrative farming opportunities if modern techniques are applied properly and efficiently. Pakistan being an agriculture country contributes 44 percent to the national economy, however, it could be increased if modern techniques are applied properly, he added.
“The US government is committed to helping Pakistan modernize its agriculture sector – thus providing a boost to the country’s economy,” he added. He said the training participants will use the new information to counsel farmers in their respective regions as how to improve farm business, set up agriculture co-operation stores, improve storage and on-farm processing, and develop market linkages.
He said that farming in the mountain areas likewise Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan, has always been a challenge for agriculture extension workers and researchers. He said that Pakistan’s agricultural sector is a major employer of the country’s labor force. However, the sector lacks modern technologies and knowledge to make its products competitive.
He further said the US government works with the government and businesses in the sector to introduce international quality standards, renovate irrigation systems, upgrade farming techniques, and increase profitability by identifying better markets, both locally and internationally.
“I am glad that USAID has provided me skills to raise awareness regarding agri-business among AJK farmers and especially the female farmers who have a lead role in farming activities,” said Amna Rafi, Assistant Director at AJK Agriculture Department and one of the participants of the 10-day training. Ghulam Mustafa, Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture Gilgit-Baltistan who was also part of the training told the participants that the training remained very useful for the agriculture specialists to pass on the skills to the local formers, which would help further enhance productivity.