ISLAMABAD  - Ambassador of France to Pakistan Nicolas Galey on Thursday said that his country was keen to increase agricultural linkages between the research institutes of both the countries to promote bilateral relations in areas of agriculture sector development.

The ambassador called on Minister of National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam and discussed areas of mutual cooperation and agriculture sector development. Fakhar Imam apprised that Pakistan exported 463,000 tonnes of citrus fruits last year, adding that due to the GSP Plus status granted to Pakistan by EU, Pakistan had been able to increase its exports to France as well.

He said Pakistan had also immense export potential with respect to citrus fruits, rice, mangoes, onion, potatoes, fisheries and livestock, adding that sharing of germplasm on reciprocal basis of cotton, melon, cereal crops, and other high value horticulture crops and livestock can enhance the agriculture sector of both countries. The minister said that cooperation in production technologies of cotton and high value horticulture crops such as kinnow, dates and mangoes could be beneficial for Pakistan. Fakhar said that Pakistan had 8 million tonnes of rice which could be exported to France as well, adding that over 144,000 tonnes of mangoes were exported during last year and hence its export to France also had huge potential.

Fakhar Imam said that France had mechanization expertise which could benefit Pakistan, adding that the country faced a number of challenges but with the right policy interventions under the leadership of Prime Minister agriculture sector was transformed. Speaking on the occasion, Nicolas Galey said that Pakistan and France should enhance bilateral cooperation in fields of agriculture and livestock sectors development and invited a delegation from Pakistan to visit the primary research institutes in France. He also welcomed the proposal of the minister to create a student and faculty exchange programme and said that agriculture was an important part of French economy and was key area of focus.