In a bid to help Pakistan enhance its wheat production and equip the local growers with latest technology, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Monday handed over latest wheat sowing technology under US-Pakistan Wheat Productivity Enhancement Project (WPEP).
The handing-over ceremony was held here at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), which was jointly organised by the USDA, International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT), Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), and several Pakistani agriculture institutions and universities. The wheat sowing planters were handed over to various research institutions and universities that would replace the traditional hand-sowing crop systems and antiquated machinery, currently utilised in Pakistan. The planters would initially be utilised on pilot projects in these institutions and would be replicated to transfer the technology to farmers to enhance their crop productivity.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research Seerat Asghar stated the planters would particularly help small farmers to enhance their crop productivity. He said that the wheat sowing technology should have been transferred three decades ago, but added that it was never too late.
He said that the planters would be handed over to the local manufacturers to replicate the technology to ensure that farmers take benefit of the latest technology. He also appreciated the research conducted in the agriculture sector, which has helped to increase food needs and productivity in the country. In his remarks, USDA Agriculture Counsellor in Pakistan Clay Hamilton said that the transfer of planters to Pakistan was a symbol of long collaboration between Pakistan and United States. He also underscored the need for enhancing links between researchers and farmers of the two countries to achieve better results in agriculture production.
Speaking on the occasion, Country Representative CIMMYT Dr Imtiaz Mohammad said that the handed over planters would replace the traditional wheat sowing systems, which would benefit the local farmers. He said that the latest equipment would bring efficiency and improve productivity of small farmers.
Chairman PARC Dr Iftikhar Ahmad said that the WPEP project achieved the goal of increased productivity by introducing disease-resistant wheat varieties, building research capacity, improving disease surveillance systems, developing seed distribution systems, and modernising national crop development programmes through upgrading infrastructure and equipment.
He said that Pakistan was fully prepared to cope with the challenges of UG99 crop disease, as the scientists have developed new crop varieties to cater to the increasing food requirements. He said that Pak-US collaboration in agriculture field resulted in establishment of several agriculture universities and institutions in the country.