Meeting mulls collaboration in agriculture research

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) held a meeting on collaboration in agricultural research to discuss prevailing scenario, challenges and future opportunities in the agricultural universities of the country and provincial agriculture departments.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Arshad Ali, executive director of HEC, said that research and development is one of the core strategic aims of the commission. Since its establishment in 2002, the HEC has initiated, devised and implemented numerous programmes to cultivate the culture of quality and relevant research in the higher education institutions, he said.

He observed that magnitude and quality of research has been gradually increasing, which has been widely acknowledged nationally as well as internationally. “However, this is just a beginning and we not only have to sustain this trajectory, but also to contemplate and ensure that R&D activities constructively impact life of the people of Pakistan through academic, economic and social contributions,” he underlined.

The executive director maintained that HEC has been at the forefront of facilitating higher education institutions in fostering quality and relevance of research. He said agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy and the HEC is promoting agricultural research activities in the country’s agricultural universities. He stressed the need for inter-provincial collaboration to foster agricultural research in the country.

He maintained that agriculture research board should also be established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir like Punjab and Sindh. He offered funding to all provincial agriculture departments through universities in different projects.

He said the world is witnessing a dramatic change in agriculture, adding that Pakistan needs to adopt new technologies to cope with the new challenges in agricultural research and education. He also assured provision of digital library access to provincial agricultural departments for fulfillment of legal formalities. He also assured his full support to formulate and finalise a roadmap for agricultural research projects.

Dr M Latif, Adviser (R&D), all provincial agriculture secretaries, vice chancellors of agriculture universities, Sheikh Shakeel, additional secretary Government of Sindh, Shaukat Ali, additional secretary Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ahmad Raza Khan, secretary agriculture Government of Balochistan, and Abdul Sattar, additional secretary agriculture, attended the meeting.

Capt (r) M Mahmood, secretary agriculture Government of Punjab, joined the meeting though video conference. Dr Sarwat Naz Mirza, vice chancellor of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi and Dr Noor P Khan, vice chancellor of Agriculture University Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, were also present on the occasion.