Saturday, December 3
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Green Alliance to revolutionize agri-sector, cement Pak-US bonds: Envoy to US

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Masood Khan has said the recent momentum in Pak-US relations has opened up vistas of opportunities in furthering Pak-US cooperation in critical areas including agriculture sector.

He was addressing a webinar on Pak-US Cooperation in Agriculture Sector, hosted by Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, says a statement issued here on Saturday.

The Ambassador said Pak-US ‘Green Alliance’ can potentially serve to revolutionize agriculture sector of Pakistan with the help of US expertise and would also significantly help in cementing the goodwill created between the two countries by Green Revolution in past.

He said the US government, universities, research institutes and the private sector are willing to join hands with Pakistan in addressing issues related to agriculture sector. He underscored the need for capitalizing this unique opportunity to create a win-win partnership between the two countries.

The envoy said the goal of revolutionizing agriculture sector needed innovative approach, a concrete strategy with delineated goals, sustained efforts and a robust cooperation among all stakeholders including government departments, universities and the private sector. He said farmers’ community and civil society were important stakeholders while chalking out future roadmap vis-a-vis addressing challenges in agriculture sector and promoting greater Pak-US cooperation.

Masood Khan said the interest being shown by the US side and the existing frameworks including Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between Pakistan and the United States provides us with a solid foundation to enter into a robust partnership, once again, in agriculture sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan apprised the participants that University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) enjoyed strong ties with Washington State University (WSU). He informed the participants that in order to overcome effects of climate change on wheat crop, Washington State University (WSU) shared heat tolerant wheat germoplasm which were being introduced and tested.

The Vice Chancellor emphasized upon the need for greater focus on technology transfer and implementation of intellectual property rights laws, in letter and spirit, to encourage US companies invest in the seed sector. Meanwhile, Syed Babar Ali, founder of National Fertilizer Corporation, underscored the importance of seeds as the foundation of agriculture sector having critical role in enhancing crop yield.

Emphasizing the need for out of the box solutions, Syed Babar Ali called for radically liberalizing regulatory regime vis-a-vis seed processing, procurement, distribution and use. Muhammad Asim, country lead Monsanto Bayer, highlighted the importance of ensuring level playing field, implementation of IP protection laws and bilateral collaboration in technology transfer areas.

Renowned agriculturist Ms Rabia Sultan underscored the need for putting in place science based regulatory regime and stewardship of new varieties of seeds. Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak identified viability gap funding and provision of incentives for seed processing plants as major areas for promoting introduction and adaption of quality seeds for various crops.

US former ambassador Asif Chaudhry while calling for according ‘strategic importance’ to seeds emphasized upon greater facilitation of the private sector by federal and provincial government departments.

The Ambassador underlined the need for a dialogue on streamlining regulatory regime vis-a-vis introduction and adaption of new varieties of seeds. He also assured the participants of every possible support from the Embassy of Pakistan in connecting relevant stakeholders and building networks to promote greater cooperation between Pakistan and the United States in the agriculture sector.

The webinar was organized to identify potential areas of cooperation between Pakistan and the United States and interventions needed to optimize agricultural yields through introduction of weather resistant and climate resilient seeds, helping Pakistani famers reducing costs and maximizing output and most importantly to stave off any situation involving food security.