USAID Provincial Director for Punjab Alison McFarland on Friday called on University of Agriculture Faisalabad Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad at Syndicate Room, UAF and discussed the ongoing projects and area of mutual concern.
She also visited US Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies (USPCAS) in Agriculture and Food Security, UAF; Directorate of Farms, biogas, and village heritage here at the campus where students of rural sociology presented rural and folk culture. She met the UAF women faculty who got training from University of California USA under USPCAS faculty exchange program.
She said USAID is assisting Pakistanis secure a more prosperous future by increasing household incomes and employment, nurturing competitive small and medium enterprises, expanding trade and investment, creating more rewarding business opportunities, building on-farm irrigation infrastructure, and promoting a vibrant agricultural sector. She said that Pakistan’s agriculture sector employs more than 40 percent of the nation’s workforce and is a key driver of the country’s economic growth.
UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said that the UAF was partnered with University of California under the USAID-funded USPCAS. The numerous initiatives including scholarship, research, policy measures, modern techniques, and curriculum reforms are being taken to ensure the food security and for the agriculture sector.
He said the fast changing demography, climate and international trade policies are impacting the economies of the countries. In this scenario, agriculture seems to be more important than what might have appeared as a source of food security only.
In Pakistan’s economic systems, it is only the agriculture, which provides food for entire population and have the potential to provide employment to the growing number of unemployed youth.
He said USAID’s initiative to establish a U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security (USPCAS - AFS) at UAF will greatly support Pakistan’s economic development by strengthening UAF in crucially important areas. It aims to establish the governance structures, improve curriculum and teaching practices, and upgrade the graduate programs and research to meet client (industry, civil society, and government) needs. This initiative will particularly benefit the talented but economically and culturally disadvantaged students to access higher education in agriculture and food security.
The USPCAS-AFS will serve as a focal point for collaborative research and training among all nodes of agricultural sciences related to food security. It will build a cohesive scientific community and provide a suitable platform to enable cutting edge agricultural research to address current problems being face
He said that USPCAS is actively working on building the capacity of UAF to produce the highest quality workforce in the fields of food and agricultural production; to bridge the gap of academic research with industry and government; to conduct client oriented applied research in focus areas to ensure sustainable agriculture and food security and to provide opportunities to talented but economically and culturally disadvantaged students to higher education and to perform curricular reforms to offer the most relevant educational programs
He said that women participation in the socio-economic activities were vital to compete with rest of world. He said that more than 45 percent of students enrolled in the campus were girls. He said that agriculture sector was the backbone of our economy and poverty alleviation was linked to the sector. He said that University was having 450 PhDs.