ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States enjoy close relations, which would continue to strengthen with each passing day, USAID Mission Director for Pakistan Julie Koenen said on Friday.

During her visit to the National Agri­cul­tural Research Centre in Islamabad to mark 75 years of bilateral relations, Ms Koenen said the US Agency for Inter­national Development (USAID) would con­tinue to play a role in supporting the agriculture sector of Pakistan for inclusive economic growth.

“Together, we will continue to stren­gthen communities and build a more prosperous and resilient Pakistan,” she said.

The USAID official said partnership between the two countries had boosted the strength and prosperity of the Pakistani nation in various fields, including the agricultural sector. The United States had worked closely with Pakistan since the 1950s to improve the economy and feed growing population by procuring state-of-the-art equipment, improving agribusiness management practices, increasing the amount of irrigated land and assisting to establish major agricultural research fields, she added.

USAID agricultural expert Nazim Ali told reporters that the mission had decided to undertake a climate smart agriculture activity in Pakistan with a grant assistance of $16 million.

The activity is expected to be a four-year award (2022-26), which has been designed to introduce and promote climate-smart technologies for sustainable growth of the agriculture sector and create resilience in communities associated with agriculture.

The activity will also work on ways to increase public and private sector investment in research and innovation for adaptation and resilience in agriculture.

To minimise the impact of climate cha­nge and to build resilience while increasing productivity, the proposed activity will adopt a three-pronged approach.

For changing climatic conditions, it will introduce technologies and practices that will help actors in the food system

to adapt to climate change; to mitigate the risks associated with extreme climatic events; and to promote investment in research and innovation systems to tackle climate change in the agriculture sector.

The United States spent $27.8m from 1974 to 1985 for strengthening agricultural research in Pakistan. The main project elements comprised technical assistance, training, commodities, national coordinated research programmes for major agricultural commodities and disciplines. The National Agricultural Research Centre was constructed under the US assistance.

Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Chairman Ghulam Ali said that in mid-1980s, the United States assisted in the form of $38m to develop human resources and stretching institutions.

In Agriculture Linkages Programme, the United States had spent $23.2m from 1999 to date, promoting long-term scientific cooperation with Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2022

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