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Minister seeks USAID assistance for locust control, agri cooperation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has a history of collaboration with the United States through USAID and is looking for various for assistance in several areas and prospective potential cooperation in agriculture.
This was said by Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar while speaking to US ambassador Paul W. Jones. Agricultural Counselor Rey Santella and Director of Rural and Economic Development Office USAID Jeff Goebel were also present.
The federal minister said that agriculture sector is vital for Pakistan’s economy and GDP and the government is looking forward for a healthy cooperation in agro sector for mutual benefits. The minister further added that Pakistan has huge halal meat production and can enter into the world market through US support in terms of developing strategic partnerships and joint ventures.
Bakhtiar said that they are focusing on mutual collaboration by providing enabling platform in public sector. He added that the incumbent government has launched history’s largest agriculture development program worth over Rs3 billion, which shows commitment towards revival of this sector.
The minister told the US ambassador that in order to achieve high yield through accurate scientific means would enable them to plan the crop sowing priorities and to meet the challenges of production especially enhancing cotton, pulses and edible oil growth indigenously for there is a huge import bill of these commodities.
The ambassador said that United States already has its footprints in Pakistan especially in agriculture sector for soybean is exported here from US. Moreover, there are number of projects in livestock and dairy sector through USAID interventions.
Bakhtiar said that they are looking forward for cooperation in developing cold chain, value addition facilities in various horticulture products, dairy and meat. He further said that joint ventures in these areas would be a convenient approach for unleashing potential in short span of time.
Mr Jones said that US is well aware that Pakistan is an important agricultural country. Exchange of technologies in agro field including cooperation in value addition, public private partnership would be welcomed by both the sides. He further added that the experts in various areas for instance, dairy, livestock, fisheries could exchange visits for learning new technologies.
Bakhtiar told the ambassador that there are issues relating access to credit for small farmers. He said USAID and ZTBL, leading agro-credit bank of Pakistan, may launch a venture, as USAID is already working other banks.
The minister also talked about the prevailing situation of desert locust attack in Sindh and Balochistan and also expressed his desire that US could support Pakistan in desert locust control program specifically in areas of surveillance and control.
USAID director Jeff Goebel told the minister that the agency has separate department called Disaster System and if requested officially it may intervene and provide support wherever needed.
Federal Minister expressed his desire that both countries must explore venues for mutual cooperation especially when PM’s ‘Agriculture Emergency Program’ has already started during his visit to US.
The US envoy appreciated the efforts by the National Food Security ministry for facilitating the export of exotic dairy animals to Pakistan and also assured to pursue the matters discussed in the meeting.
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