US vows continued support to agriculture

Scientist says much needs to be done to ensure food security.

Zafar Bhutta April 24, 2014
Pakistan and the US have a 50-year-long history of cooperation in the agricultural sector, said Borlaug. PHOTO: FILE


United States Ambassador Richard Olson has stressed that America has been a partner of Pakistan in the agricultural sector and will continue its cooperation to ensure food security in the country.

Speaking at a reception hosted in honour of renowned agricultural scientist and Nobel laureate Dr Norman E Borlaug late Wednesday evening, Olson said the US government had done a lot in the agricultural sector for the entire Pakistan to alleviate poverty.

“Norman did a lot and took pains to improve the agricultural sector. He is recognised and was awarded Nobel Prize for his services,” he said.

Borlaug reminded the audience that Pakistan and the US had a 50-year-long history of cooperation in the agricultural sector and the best scientists had worked to ensure food security in Pakistan.

“Malnutrition problems in under-developed countries have eased but we have to go a long way and there should be no complacency. Equitable food distribution is more important than mere efforts to enhance food production,” Borlaug said.

The US worked for food security in Pakistan and did a lot to resolve problems in the agricultural sector, but still much needed to be addressed, he said. He also suggested this required ideas and the governments in this region needed to be involved more physically in agricultural projects.

Highlighting that Pakistan was at number three after China and India in production of wheat and other cereals in the region, Borlaug stressed Islamabad could substantially enhance wheat output with application of modern technology to all important areas like soil, water and fertiliser.

Agricultural cooperation between the US and Pakistan has continued over the years.

In 1999, the US Department of Agriculture donated $23 million to set up a research endowment fund at the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc) aimed at promoting and supporting research and development activities.

In 2002, it provided $25.35 million to alleviate poverty, reduce vulnerability and improve food security through sustainable development. It gave another $6.6 million to improve agriculture in Pakistan.

Parc Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad said the government was moving forward in the area of agriculture with US cooperation in an effort to remove hurdles and alleviate poverty.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2014.

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