Rawalpindi - Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema said that the agriculture sector development is among the top priorities of the government and PM’s Agriculture Transformation Plan is a revolutionary initiative to shift conventional agriculture to the next level – commercial agriculture.

 He stated this while addressing a seminar on Prime’s Minister Agriculture Transformation Plan: Targets & the Way Forward held at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) here on Tuesday.  On the occasion, Prof. Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman Vice Chancellor PMAS-AAUR, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director SDPI, Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman PCRWR, PMAS-AAUR Deans/Directors and faculty members were also present.  Jamshed Iqbal Cheema further said that the government policy of agricultural transformation is not only the food security of the country but also addresses the physical nutritional needs of every citizen of Pakistan.  He said there is a dire need to improve the nourishment of humans and animals in the country because each person across the world consumes 210kg of fruits and vegetables almost every year while in Pakistan per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables is 63kg.

“Each individual all over the world consumes 370kg grains and in Pakistan it is 200kg whereas 40 million tonnes of feed is required for our animals and we are producing 13 million tonnes,” he added.

He said that the government is allocating different districts for different crops under which the problem of water would also be controlled and imports would be reduced by increasing the production of agricultural commodities.

Highlighting the Prime Minister’s policy on agricultural transformation, he said that Pakistan would eliminate soybean imports by 2024 and was of the view that Gilgit will be the next agriculture hub of Pakistan under this policy.

He appealed to the faculty and students of the university to go beyond facilitation and promote applied research, bring new quality products to the market, create new and good seeds and invent cheap ways to save water.

Dr Abid Qayyum Silhari, Executive Director, SDPI, said that Coronavirus has created a crisis of health, economy and malnutrition in the world, which has severely affected even a strong economic country like the United States. As a result of the successful strategy of the government, Pakistan survived these three crises. He said that there was no doubt that food items had become more expensive in Pakistan during pandemic but they were not lacking. Highlighting the importance of relationship between education and industry, he said that both are the guarantors of Pakistan’s development. He appreciated the programmes run by Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi which are the result of the hard work of the faculty and administration.

Chairman PCRWR Dr Muhammad Ashraf said that Pakistan’s national security is linked to food security which shows its importance. He said that most of the water is used in agriculture in Pakistan which is depleting Pakistan’s water resources which need to be addressed on a war footing. He said that to solve the water problem, the regional distribution of crops in Pakistan needs to be strictly adhered to. This will not only solve the water problem immediately but will also not lead to a shortage of commodities.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman appreciated the efforts of government for providing special package for agricultural development and informed the gathering that PMAS-AAUR has already launched various programs for this purpose in which research teams consisting of faculty and research students have been formed to strengthen the academic and industrial linkage and promote the culture of applied research.