The Punjab Agriculture Department and Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for ‘Plant Wise Plus Programme’ and improving food security.
A ceremony was held at Agriculture House, reports the Daily Times of Pakistan. Under the MoU, the Punjab Agriculture Department and the CABI agreed on collaboration. A plant clinic network is to be digitalised to establish E-plant clinics, which would facilitate farmers in diagnosing crop diseases and achieving national food security.
Punjab Agriculture Secretary Wasif Khurshid shared, during the ceremony, that since 2012, the Department of Agriculture had been running plant-wise programmes with 700 plant clinics in the province. He added that there was a dire need for ensuring effective measures to increase per acre yield of crops and to meet the nutritional needs of the growing population. He emphasized that, “Pakistan is among the six countries that are ensuring food security through the diagnosis and control of crop diseases under the Plant Wise Plus programme."
Furthermore, Mr. Wasif Khurshid added, that small farmers would be provided with solutions to crop related problems and digital advisory would be issued on their mobile phones.
It should also be noted that under this programme, a commercial bio-control laboratory would be established in Muzaffargarh for the large-scale breeding of friendly insects in Punjab which would help in provision of friendly insects to the farmers for the control of crop insects/ pests.
Agriculture (Extension) Director General Dr Muhammad Anjum Ali said that the ongoing plant clinics programme would be made more effective for timely diagnosis of crop diseases. He mentioned that so far, more than 0.4 million farmers across the province have benefited from this facility. Now, under this agreement, the Agriculture department is to ensure timely guidance and effective measures for the control of pests and diseases through digitized plant clinics.
CABI Asia Senior Regional Director Dr Babar Ehsan Bajwa said that the entire system would be digitized through the collaboration of the Agriculture Department, Punjab and CABI which he added would reduce the attack of pests and diseases on crops.
He said, “Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) has so far provided practical training to 1400 workers of the Agriculture (Extension) who are serving at plant clinics.” Plant Wise Programme for Pakistan Country Coordinator Dr Naeem Aslam thanked all the participants and said that this program would be a game changer that would reduce crop losses and increase farmers’ income, thereby enabling food safety and security in the country.
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