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PARC’s restructuring on the cards

June 04, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Jun 4: The government has decided to restructure the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) keeping in view the deteriorating performance of the country’s apex agro-research body.

According to an official document of the Planning Commission, the performance evaluation of the PARC has been undertaken which identified a number of deficiencies in the working of the research body for future improvement.  The evaluation carried out on the directive of the President’s Secretariat, has been submitted to the Presidency for further action.

A third-party evaluation of PARC has been recommended by the Planning Commission to provide guidelines for its restructuring which will be carried out with the financial assistance of USAID, according to the Annual Plan 2012-13.

As the third-party evaluation is under consideration, the PARC does not have a full-time chairman. Moreover, the PARC has failed to contribute to the agriculture sector whose growth rate target was missed during 2011-12.

The growth rate of agriculture was 3.1 per cent against the set target of 3.4 per cent.

The PARC performance was under fire during the first meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security and Agricultural Research.

The committee members were of the view that the government was providing funds to PARC, but it had failed to contribute to the sector.

It was consensus among the standing committee members that the research body failed to introduce improved or new seed varieties and measures to mitigate the effects of climate change which is likely to affect the country’s agriculture.

The documents released for the federal budget 2012-13 carried no mention of PARC contributions to agricultural research which is now part of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. There were no sections on agricultural research in the Pakistan Economic Survey 2011-12 as well as in the Annual Plan 2012-13.

On the other hand, the PARC remained tight-lipped on the incidence of a new type of wheat disease, known as ‘tilletia indica’ which has damaged wheat grains in Sialkot, Gujranwala and Hafizabad.

The seed-borne disease was discussed by the standing committee on food security however no PARC official was present at the meeting to suggest remedial measures.

Several calls were made to acting chairman of PARC, Naveed Saleemi, and Wheat Coordinator of NARC, Yaqub Mujahid, to know the status of the disease however these officials did not respond.

Under the Annual Plan 2012-13, the federal government allocated Rs405 million for the projects of various research organisations attached with the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

These projects include National Institute of Genomic and Advanced Bio-technology, Pak-China Cooperation for Agricultural Research and Development, Indigenisation of Hybrid Seed Production for Enhanced Crop Production, National Bio-Saline Agricultural Programme, and strengthening of facilities and quality inspection services in compliance with WTO-establishment of integrated national animal and plant health inspection services.