Australia, Pakistan celebrate agri-linkages

ISLAMABAD: The Australian High Commission here on Friday highlighted Australian and Pakistan’s strong and growing partnership in the agriculture sector with a reception on the occasion of the visit to Pakistan by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) Chief Executive Officer, Dr Nick Austin. The event provided an opportunity to celebrate the next phase of the successful Agriculture Sector Linkages Programme (ASLP) in Pakistan.

ASLP Phase II will build linkages between the agricultural sectors of Australia and Pakistan in order to improve the livelihood of rural poor in Pakistan. This is the continuation of ASLP Phase I, which operated from 2005-10, and was successful in increasing the transfer of technical knowledge between Australian and Pakistani scientists to underpin the ongoing transformation of Pakistan’s mango, citrus and dairy industries.

The ASLP Phase II will contribute a total Australian $12.95 million (approximately Rs 1.2 billion) over four years to agricultural research in Pakistan. Its goals are to enhance the ability of Pakistan’s research, development and extension system to deliver targeted and practical research outputs to agribusiness and farmers, and to help change the lives of smallholder farmers across Pakistan. Phase II will continue to centre on horticulture (mango and citrus) and livestock (dairy) enterprises, while at the same time addressing underlying issues of water management and institutional and technical capacity building issues.

Addressing the reception, Australian High Commissioner, Tim George, said: “ACIAR’s work, including the Agriculture Sector Linkages Programme, is a key component of Australia’s growing engagement with Pakistan. As a leading agriculture exporter, with world-class expertise in agricultural research, we see great scope to cooperate to build Pakistan’s agricultural capacity.”

ACIAR CEO, Dr Nick Austin, said: “This is my first visit to Pakistan, and I have been impressed by the huge potential in agriculture here. Pakistan’s farmers face many challenges and it is critical that we continue our collaboration. ASLP Phase II has the potential to change the lives of farmers across Pakistan, and I look forward to working with government, academic institutions, and farmers, to make a real difference to Pakistan’s agriculture sector.”

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