Academia puts in its back to resolve food security issues

July 31, 2013

Academia puts in its back to resolve food security issues
Academia puts in its back to resolve food security issues

Pakistani universities are taking lead in resolving food security and agricultural issues in the country under facilitation of Higher Education Commission (HEC) in collaboration with leading American universities through joint research projects.

The food security in Pakistan seems extremely chaotic at the moment, despite the farmers increasing crop production, especially wheat. Although there is a surplus of crops, the masses suffer from shortage and price hike.

According to HEC, food experts have warned that Pakistan’s food security is under threat due to policies of economists inflicting heavily not only the farmers but also the consumers. Experts say it is high time that the relevant official quarters should properly maintain food security withouth considering the mechanism of the market and it should also put a ban on export of essential food grains till prices are stabilised inland.

Under the cooperation programme, six research projects have been initiated to deal with food security situation in Pakistan including ‘Management of greening by producing healthy plants, monitoring vectors and identification of tolerance’ between University of Agriculture Pakistan and University of California, USA. It aims to create new breed of citrus plants resistant to graft transmissible pathogens to improve productivity of citrus in the country.

Another project, ‘Enhancing sugarcane production in Pakistan by modern breeding techniques’ between University of the Punjab Pakistan and US Department of Agriculture to improve sugarcane production by using new methods of breeding that yields better crops. The study is helping to make Pakistan sugarcane industry more competitive and help sugar farmers to increase production and reduce losses.

A project between National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Pakistan and Washington State University USA, ‘Secure Pakistan Wheat Production through Controlling Rusts’ has been initiated to increase local knowledge about combating rust fungi by testing local wheat with rust strains which will be helpful in achieving better food security for Pakistan.

Another project, ‘Novel triple acting chimeric antimicrobials for eradication of multi-drug resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus’ between University of the Punjab Pakistan and US Department of Agriculture is focusing on improving dairy production in the country. Successful execution of the project will help to improve the quality and relevance of education and research and will also improve the family income of the average farmer.

In addition, a number of projects aiming at encouraging indigenous research at Pakistani universities over food security issues have been financed by HEC under its National Research Program for Universities (NRPU).

Commenting on these programs, HEC Chairperson Dr Javaid Laghari said that the goal of HEC is to develop local expertise and indigenous technology through strong collaborations with research groups in leading foreign universities. “These projects help foster foreign relationships based on exchange of knowledge and technology to minimise food security issues in Pakistan,” he added.

Pakistan -US S&T Cooperation Program serve as the focal point for technology transfer activities, helping HEC in its mission that aims to facilitate institutions of higher education and helps equips the individuals with better knowledge who will further take part in socio economic growth of Pakistan.

Dr Laghari remarked that under HEC facilitation, Pakistani universities have not introduced better variety of crops and fruits but also closely working with farmer community in their capacity.

He also hoped that these projects will play a significant role in  economic development of Pakistan. Courtesy pakistantoday

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