Food security, health, education and availability of clean water are the real challenges facing the government. We are making all-out efforts to address these problems, Governor Malik Rafique Rajwana said on Tuesday.
He was talking to students at the inaugural session of the Distinguished Innovations, Collaboration and Entrepreneurship (DICE) 2015 Competition, jointly organised by University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) and the British Council.
“When the government came into power, the country faced grave problems like terrorism, energy crisis and a weak economy. However, things have now started moving in a positive direction,” he said.
He said that the government believed in taking all political forces on board. “It is our government’s commitment to resolve the problems of the common man,” he said.
The governor said that food security was at the top of the government’s agenda. “The farming community faces many difficulties. The government has introduced a Rs341 billion Kissan Package to resolve their problems,” he said.
Rajwana said that even though a number of new universities had opened in the province in recent years, he was concerned about the quality of education. “Quality education is the best guarantee of a bright future for our country. Education becomes the engine of growth for any country,” he said.
He said that more steps should be taken to increase research in the agriculture sector. He praised UAF’s efforts in this regard.
German Ambassador to Pakistan Ina Lepel said that Germany had established strong collaborative programmes with the UAF. “The competition will sharpen the talent of students,” she said.
She also called for developing strong academia-industry linkages.
Vice Chancellor Iqrar Ahmad Khan said that the UAF research funding had exceeded Rs2.2 billion. “Food security and rural development are the university’s priorities. The timely sowing of crops, adoption of best varieties, balanced use of fertilisers and soil analysis are imperative to increase agricultural yields and to ensure food security,” he said.
Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Mian Muhammad Idrees said that top 10 innovative ideas in each category would be sponsored by the industry.
British Council Director of Examinations Murray Keeler said that the organisation was helping strengthen academic ties between British and Pakistani institutes. He said that they were trying to improve students’ English language skills.
DICE president Khursheed Qureshi said the competition had been started in 2007. “Now, more than 500 students from 50 educational institutes are taking part in the competition,” he said.
He called for developing a knowledge-based economy. “Japan has emerged as one of the leading developed nations due to its knowledge-based economy,” he said.
Pakistan Council for Science and Technology Chairman Anwarul Hassan Gilani said the country lagged behind in research and commercialisation. “We export cotton to and import garments from Bangladesh where not a single plant of cotton is grown. We should strengthen our industry,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2015.
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