Islamabad, 13 March 2020 (GNP): The National Dialogue on Agriculture, convened with the technical support of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), concluded with a declaration and a new resolve to uplift Pakistan’s agro-economy. The members of the National Assembly of Pakistan agreed to maximize efforts to mainstream agriculture in the national policy planning and budgeting.
A flagship initiative of the Speaker National Assembly of Pakistan, Mr. Asad Qaiser, the national dialogue was attended by the President of Pakistan, Members of the cabinet, treasury and opposition benches, international financial institutions, agriculture specific international organizations, ambassadors, farmers unions and technical experts.
Speaking on the occasion the President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi stressed on the need to build new synergies, mobilization of investment in Agriculture Research and enabling environment for the private sector to drive the Agriculture transformation agenda. He appreciated the Speaker National Assembly’s efforts to turn around Pakistan’s Agricultural decline. Minister for National Food Security and Research also spoke on the occasion.
The Speaker termed the dialogue as the beginning of a nationally integrated effort to facilitate policy shifts in the agriculture sector. He vowed that the jointly agreed recommendations would be pursued to a logical end. The Speaker National Assembly stressed that enhanced farmers’ profitability, diversified national nutrient base and employment generation in agriculture sector were key objectives of such national deliberations.
The dialogue addressed 8 themes which included agriculture research, extension and technology transfer frameworks, farmers’ access to credit, input for higher yields, pathways for enhancing Pakistan’s agriculture exports, women and youth in agriculture, integrated natural resource management, high value agricultural products and value addition for a resilient agriculture sector.
Experts from FAO participated in the dialogue stressing on the need to focus on sustainability, productivity, value and inclusion to revitalize Pakistan’s agricultural sector and rural economy.
FAO Representative in Pakistan, Mina Dowlatchahi while speaking on the theme of women and youth in agriculture said, “75% of the manual labour in agriculture is done by women, yet they are extremely underrepresented. It is pertinent to have a dialogue on how women and youth can be included in policy related to agriculture sector employment, which is important for the design of the government structure.”
The Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaking at the conclusion of the dialogue remarked that poor farmers’ lack of access to finance and markets precluded them from achieving the economies of scale in agriculture. (GNP)