Focussing on the main objective and vision of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K), regular discussions between CABI’s Country Coordinator for Plantwise in Pakistan, and the DOA led to a formal agreement which officially endorsed plant clinics in three divisions of AJ&K.
The primary focus of this initiative will be on the demonstration of improved farm practices and providing quality plant health advice and solutions to the farmers. Productivity enhancement of major field crops in the region (maize, wheat, pulses, millets, and forages) through the programme’s innovative extension services (Plant Clinics), capacity building of the extension staff all these objectives will lie under the core responsibilities of the department.
Dr Bashir Butt, the Director General (DoA) expressed his views that Plantwise is so close to the main function of the department:
“Of course, this programme is not only helpful in the sustainable management of resources but it also builds the capacity of our staff on the diagnosis of major plant health problems and recommendations regarding most appropriate solutions, leading ultimately to food security and prosperity in the region.”
Dr Naeem Aslam, Country Coordinator for Plantwise in Pakistan said, “the Plantwise program will facilitate the department in achieving a skilful, competitive, sustainable, self-reliant, globally acceptable, and market-oriented agriculture in AJ&K, which is the vision of the department as well.”
Currently, the DOA mainly provides plant disease and pest control services through plant health/disease investigation and control, the introduction of environmentally-friendly integrated pest management (IPM) approaches for reduction of crop losses caused by pests and diseases of fruits, cereal crops, and vegetables, and technical support in the field of IPM and apiculture, recommending and providing appropriate remedies including pesticides/insecticides for control of various plant pests. All these services will now be supported through Plantwise as the programme is well synchronized with the services offered by the department.
Dr Aslam also explained that the plant clinics have shown their value as a means of reaching farmers who are deprived of access to advisory services and the partners in other provinces are committed to strengthen the clinics as a strategic pillar of the national extension system.
There is a momentum for taking the plant clinics beyond the pilot phase and creating stronger national ownership and commitment. The initiation of the program in AZ&K is a step of the same motive.
All photos provided by authors.
CABI gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS, Netherlands), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China for the Plantwise programme.
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