Agri researchers underline importance of regional partnerships
International and local agricultural scientists and delegates from 24 countries and UN officials, who gathered on Tuesday, stressed the need for applied research in the sector that has practical application and have positive impact on the people, especially on youth and underlined the importance of conducting ‘regional research partnership’ to cope with the increasing food demand and boost economies.
This was the gist of a one-day workshop titled “Regional workshop on youth and agriculture: challenges & opportunities”, organised by the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) in collaboration with international donors, including Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA),International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT),
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Biodiversity International, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said that there is a need to promote applied research having practical application on various sectors of the economy, including agriculture, besides introducing youth entrepreneurships in the rural areas to boost rural economy.
“Our research must be applied with strong link with the development goals of the country,” he said.
Researchers must not only focus on publications of research papers in reputed journals, rather they must conduct research that have practical application and utilisation for the development of respective sectors of the economy.
Applied research is needed to find solutions for the problems, keeping in view the increasing population and stressed the need for proper implementation of research and policies to benefit the country.
Terming youth as demographic dividend, the minister said that Pakistan has one of the largest youth bulges, with 35 percent of the population aged 15 years or under and 21.7 percent between the age group of 15 and 24 years, while up to the age of 35, the youth comprises around 60 percent of the population.
Demographic bulge is a great opportunity for the country to lead towards sustainable growth; however, he warned that if we fail to provide opportunities to tap the youth potential, this dividend may prove to be a curse for the country. He said that more than 70 percent of the country’s youth population was residing in rural areas, which work primarily in the agricultural sector, adding the youth of the rural areas must be provided opportunities through rural enterprises to boost agriculture sector. With the provision of the rural youth enterprises, the youth would not only be able to earn livelihood for themselves but could generate employment opportunities for other youth of their areas, he added.
He said that the developing world has great opportunities and great challenges ahead as 90 percent of its population comprises youth.
Despite increase in the overall growth rate, the majority of the people in South Asia lives in poverty, deprived of global standards of life and are far behind in achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs).
The minister also stressed the need for focusing on value addition, as the country has still commodity-based economy and no attention has been given towards value addition.
“We are ignoring the textile sector, which has 62 percent contribution. We need to develop human resources.” He also urged young delegates and scientists to work on AR4D to AR4R and value addition products and also for results.
Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmed said that 67 percent of the rural population was dependent on agriculture and this sector contributes one-fifth to GDP and absorbs around 44 percent labour force.
At a time when knowledge and innovations has become vital for development of various sectors of the economy, Pakistan’s investment in the knowledge innovations were the lowest in the region, he said, adding that the country has huge material, as well as human resources and if tapped properly, these may become great sources for development.
Dr Simon Hearn, director general of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), highlighted the need for regional research partnerships for the benefit of all.
The national research is important but regional research partnerships have greater importance, he said, adding that APAARI has been supporting such initiatives for the development of the agriculture sector.
Courtesy The News