Islamabad—Pakistan, Monday, acknowledged the role of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Pakistan for improvement of agriculture sector and poverty reduction. This was stated by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research (NFSR) Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan in a meeting with Director General FAO-Rome Jose Graziano da Silva during his visit to Pakistan, a statement said here.
Bosan appreciated the major contributions made by FAO in Pakistan over few years such as achieving Avian Influenza free status since 2008 and establishing National Poultry Lab which is as Hub Lab for SAARC countries, control of FMD of cattle and buffalo, implementing community based development initiatives for alleviating poverty and ensuring food security and supporting relief and rehabilitation activities in emergencies were especially mentioned.
Minister also requested further technical support from the DG FAO in strengthening the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) of Pakistan; value addition and reducing post harvest losses in fruits and vegetables; because unavailability of handling, processing, transportation, and packaging technologies results in about 20-30 per cent post harvest losses in these crops; exploiting genetic potential of local fish species Rohu, Thaila, Mori and their value addition; developing thermo-stable vaccines for control of trans- boundary animal diseases in Pakistan; conservation and improvement of farm animal genetic resources; and research on climate change impacts and mitigation.
The DG FAO-Rome was also briefed on several success stories from Pakistan under the current government’s agro friendly policies. One of the examples shared was of livestock uplift and eradicating various deadly animal diseases. While appreciating the efforts for solving core issues in agro and livestock sectors, DG FAO also highlighted the benefit and importance of having a unified national policy.
He said that it is a big challenge for the country to develop, implement and make it a success story through efficient coordination among the provinces. He was of the view that zero hunger program for the poor faction of the country is multifaceted. While looking forward to establish national policy, we also need to produce more agro products to meet the food demand, he added.
The DG FAO stressed that food production is not only one factor to be emphasized but promoting balanced diet among masses is also very important. It is pertinent to mention here that meat-eating habits have lead to higher cancer rate in people especially women. So it is very important that we deal with this issue on priority basis. He also suggested bringing all stakeholders, private sector and civil society on board for uplift of agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors.
Later on, the DG FAO met Federal Minister Planning, Development and Reforms (PDR) Prof. Ahsan Iqbal who emphasized on the nutritional value of the agro products. He insisted on providing for national and international donors to support agriculture and livestock related research and production of better nutritious crops. The Minister PDR agreed to the issues mentioned by DG FAO and also appreciated the offer made by DG FAO and all the participants of the meeting agreed to join hands on solving core issues discussed in detail.
During his meeting in the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, the major stakeholder of fisheries, it was brought to his knowledge that Pakistan has a long coastal area of 1001km. But unfortunately it is under-developed. The DG FAO was requested to look into this issue also. The DG FAO agreed to support all and any kind of technical training and capacity building in Pakistan to solve these issues. He also appreciated the concern of Pakistan Ports and Shipping in development of the ports and other relevant sectors and ensured his help whenever needed and possible. 0.8% contribution from fisheries sector to Pakistan GDP is very low, especially when having a 1001 km long coastal line. We need modern technology, input for marketing and awareness among masses to curb illegal practices. So it was suggested that FAO must have interaction with the Ministry of Ports and Shipping more often.