Pak-China working group meets to discuss cooperation in agriculture sector

Atif Abbas

Islamabad: The First Meeting of China – Pakistan Joint Working Group (JWG) between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Pakistan on agricultural cooperation was held in Islamabad on Friday to discuss cooperation in agriculture sector to enhance crop production and its export.

The important meeting was chaired by the Federal Secretary Dr. Hashim Popalzai; other participants were Chinese agricultural researchers; scientists and senior officials of the Ministries participated.

The meeting basically focused to take agricultural cooperation to new high level and deliberation upon the methodology of execution with regard to the areas identified in the field of agriculture. Last year Prime Minister of Pakistan visited China and stressed the need for agriculture cooperation between two friendly countries in the backdrop of CPEC, it is more relevant after PM announced PM Agriculture Emergency Initiative where by 13 high power projects are gradually launched across Pakistan.

Both parties agreed that Pak-China agricultural cooperation will focus on the vertical increase in productivity of existing crops, transfer of knowledge and technologies, protection of germplasm resources in order to increase the production of agricultural products for food security in Pakistan and export to other countries.

In this regard, both parties also agreed to promote and expand cooperation in the identified areas based on mutual understanding, focused on capacity building, germplasm resources, agricultural product processing, technology extension, fisheries, FMD Construction and market information.

Two sides agreed to establish technical linkages between research institutes for accreditation, certification and supervision through exchange and visits. Pakistan side offered to organize joint workshops and seminars with mutual support to enhance exchange and training on agricultural technology between two sides.

The agriculture of Pakistan offers great potential for bilateral cooperation in germplasm exchange. Major challenges faced by Pakistan include comparatively low productivity of crops, climatic stress and soil degradation.

Exchange of germplasm could enlarge the quantity of gene resources and genetic diversity, and facilitate agricultural research institutes in both sides to develop high yielding varieties of various crops. Collaboration can be initiated for bilateral exchange of plant and animal (both terrestrial & aquatic) genetic resources for crop improvement and food security.

Chinese side agreed to provide technical assistance to Pakistan on Dates processing and packaging technology, Potato processing, including potato flakes, flour, and starch and modified starch. Nutritious fruit snack making technology for fruit.

Chinese side agreed to extend the ripened techniques and system of dry-land, deserts and coastal land agriculture in Pakistan. The under-mulch-drip irrigation techniques will be applied in main cotton plantation of Pakistan. In the demonstration areas of water-saving irrigation, techniques including sprinkle irrigation, micro-sprinkle irrigation, and drip irrigation would be extended.

In the meeting it was also agreed, on the basis of cooperation in protection and control of animal epidemics, to enhance the regional management of animal epidemics and FMD Free Zone with the technical support of experts. Federal Secretary said that Pakistan has made a visible progress towards entering next stage of FMD free zones, both friendly countries could work on it for mutual trade benefits.

In the meeting the proposal was made for the establishment of Center of Excellence for Livestock & Fisheries Research at National Agriculture Research Centre, Islamabad and Centre of Excellence on Cotton Research at Central Cotton Research Centre (CCRI), Multan, in collaboration with the Chinese agro scientists and researchers as it has a strong hold on agriculture research.

Moreover, the proposal was made from Ministry of National Food Security & Research that China extends support for the establishment of Intelligent Green House Farming in Pakistan and Establishment of FMD free zone.

At the conclusion of the important meeting the both side signed the agreement and resolved to rigorously follow the decisions/proposals made in this first meeting of JWG, and also meet second time within six months in China.

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