LAHORE - HBL Zarai Services Limited and the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) have signed an agreement to enter a strategic collaboration to bridge the gap between industry and academia. The MoU signing ceremony was attended by UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, President & CEO – HBL Muhammad Aurangzeb and CEO - HBL Zarai Services Amer Aziz along with other senior members from UAF, HBL and HBL Zarai Services. UAF spokesman said here on Monday that under the agreement, HBL Zarai Services will develop Farm Research & Excellence Centers across the Punjab in collaboration with the University of Agriculture Faisalabad by integrating the concept of HBL Zarai Dera to promote sustainable agriculture. This strategic collaboration aims to establish “Farm Research & Excellence Centers” and integrate these centers. The joint efforts will involve cutting-edge research, sustainable farming methods, increasing farm productivity to bring yields to global benchmarks, market development, and infrastructure support for farming communities. Additionally, the collaboration aims to bridge the academia-industry gap by engaging the university faculty members in various research projects, providing on-the-job training to university students, and facilitating project-based internships. The centers will focus on advancing agricultural practices across Punjab, transitioning from subsistence farming practices to turning agriculture into a key foreign currency earner for Pakistan. HBL Zarai Services Limited will introduce financial inclusion technologies and farmer digital inclusion programs to further enhance the impact of this collaboration on the agriculture sector, he added. UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said that these “Farm Research & Excellence Centers” would play a pivotal role in advancing modern agricultural practices in Punjab. It as a transformative step in agriculture education and a foundation in building long term bridges between industry and academia. Project based internships, on-field engagements for students leading to placements with HBL Zarai Services Limited and joint research and development projects led by the University’s faculty are among the key opportunities this collaboration offers for the institution. Commenting on the collaboration, Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO – HBL, said, “This collaboration is a concrete and actionable step towards harnessing the immense potential within Pakistan’s agricultural sector. Recognizing the critical role played by agriculture in the country’s economy, integrating academia and industry is of strategic significance.