RAWALPINDI - Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal stressed the need for focusing on value addition, as the country has still commodity-based economy and no attention has been given towards value addition.
He said this while addressing as chief guest at International Seminar on “Saemaul Undong and Economic Development” to celebrate Pak-Korea 30 years of diplomatic ties at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) here on Thursday.
Ahsan urged the scientists of the university to play their role to create awareness in farming community about the latest techniques in the agriculture and insisted that the farmers should adopt the latest techniques of production and value addition in their produce, so that they can earn more through export as well. The progress of the country is possible only by the development in agriculture sector, he added.
He further said that Pakistan was largely dependent on agriculture economy and it was the need of the time to shift agriculture on modern trends to make Pakistan a food sufficient country and improve the financial condition of farming community. The minister appreciated the efforts and developments being made by the University for socio-economic uplift of the forming community with special emphasis on rain-fed agriculture in the country.
He emphasized the significance of orchards for the agricultural economy of Pakistan and said that high value agricultural products would help to generate better income for farmers in the country, if exported to other markets. He was of the view that there was a lot of potential in the region of Potohar and if we worked on it fruit industry could become a big industry of the area.
He emphasized the significance of olive cultivation and said that that Potohar area has great potential for it. He informed the gathering that government was already working on it. He further said that new initiative to promote olive cultivation in Pakistan would help generate better income for farmers in the country. Olive was a high-value agricultural product, which could also bring in the much-needed foreign exchange, if exported to other markets, he added.
Earlier, PMAS-AAUR Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Rai Niaz Amad in his welcome address said that the establishment of Pak-Korea Capacity Building Centre for Agriculture and Livestock Technology at the university was replication of “Saemaul Undong Program” which would be helpful for the improving livelihood of the area farmers.
He was of the view that there was great potential in Potohar area for fruit crops and government should pay special attention for its development. VC informed the gathering that university has harvested nearly 45 acre feet of rainwater in small ponds at its research farm of 250 acres which was enough to carry on agricultural activities on the entire farm. He further said that it was an excellent model for the Potohar farmers to adopt and benefit from it.
Rai Niaz suggested that to exploit the true potential of Potohar region we have to shift from conventional crops to olive and orchard farming that could revolutionize the livelihood of poverty stricken masses of the area. He further said that the development of farm ponds would be far benefiting alternative to mini dams so that general masses could benefit from it. The government should support the small farmers for obtaining true benefits from latest agricultural technologies to uplift the agriculture in the country.
Korean Ambassador in his address said that this seminar and Pak-KOREA Capacity Building Center for Agriculture & Livestock would be helpful for achieving Pakistan’s economic and rural development goals, as manifested in the Vision 2025 and to further strengthens the cooperation between Korea and Pakistan.
While talking about the Saemaul Undong Program, he said that this project has contributed significantly to transforming the rural communities in particular, and the Korean society as a whole.
It was a community-based, rural development program which was initiated by the late president Park Chung Hee in the early 1970s, who encouraged people to take ownership of their communities, for their mutual benefit, he added.
He proposed to start pilot projects in the light of Saemaul Undong, with the co-operation of WFP, in two districts of Punjab, where our donor agency KOICA aims to improve the rural water and sanitation infrastructure.
Dr Farrukh Javed, Minister for Agriculture Punjab, in his address appreciated the efforts of PMAS-AAUR for producing higly educated, trained and inspired manpower and said that university was playing pivotal role in modernizing agriculture and enlightenment of rural communities in Pakistan and abroad.
He informed the gathering that agriculture was contributing 21 per cent to country GDP, providing 47 per cent of employment, originates near 80 per cent of country foreign exchange and Punjab contributes over 60 per cent to this amount and said that government and other stakeholders have to work together to make Pakistan economically stable and prosperous especially in agriculture sector.
He hoped that Pak-Korea Capacity Building Center for Agriculture & Livestock Technology will be helpful for the training, demonstration and capacity building of farmers including pest management, food technology, tunnel farming, kitchen gardening, value addition of fruits and vegetable and soil & water conservation practices.
Ambassador Oh Jay-hee, 1st Ambassador to Pakistan and President Korean-Pak Friendship Association, Sajjad Afzal Cheema, President Pak-Korea Friendship Society, Prof Dr Muktar Ahmad, Executive Director, Higher Education Commission Islamabad, and Prof Dr Park Seung-Woo, Dean, Park Chung Hee School of Policy and Saemaul Yeungnam University also addressed on the occasion.
On the occasion, Prof Dr Rai Niaz Ahmad and Prof Dr Park Seung-Woo, Dean, Park Chung Hee School of Policy and Saemaul Yeungnam University signed MoU on behalf of their respective organizations, to promote quality education, training of faculty and students, exchange of modern trends in research and education.
Dr Farrukh Javed, Minister for Agriculture Punjab and Dr Song Jong-hwan, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea did the ground breaking ceremony of Pak-Korea Capacity Building Center for Agriculture and Livestock Technology at university campus.
This capacity building center project having total cost US3.5$ million dollar by Korean aid agency Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) would significantly contribute to improve agricultural technology as well as educational infrastructure at PMAS-AAUR. It would improve human and institutional capacities of Pakistan in improving infrastructure and agricultural technology by transferring Koreas experience and know-how to the Pakistani counterpart. It would also increase farm income through quality improvement and enrichment of projects.