Key Plantwise stakeholders and partners came together for the National Forum meeting in Pakistan this August. The forum was an opportunity for members to evaluate Plantwise’s success and boost membership cooperation.
During the meeting a formal consultation with the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council and the Department of Plant Protection took place. The session looked at how present and future cooperation between organisations can, with CABI’s support, help Pakistan’s agricultural sector to grow.
Plantwise Pakistan – achievements & sustainability
Partners from Agricultural Extension Departments from all over Pakistan were present at the conference. Presentations were given on Plantwise’s achievements and the programme’s sustainability.
A number of positive agreements were made during the course of the event. Discussions were held on how the bond between partner organisations can be strengthened and potential solutions for some of the major challenges facing Pakistan’s agricultural sector.
Attendees included PARC Chairman, Dr. Muhammad Azeem Kahn, who agreed PARC’s lead in processing Pakistan’s membership contribution in 2021. In addition, PARC will support the distribution of CABI’s open-access products to all provincial governments.
National Data Centre
CABI’s bi-annual member country consultation with Pakistan will remain in place, which will aid in linking Plantwise with area-wide pest control. What’s more, Plantwise will be formally established within Pakistan’s government policy.
Another positive development was the agreement to establish a National Data Centre in Karachi. Dr. Tariq Khan (DG, DPP) and CABI’s Dr. Babar Ehsan Bajwa discussed how the NDC will provide a comprehensive ‘Plant Health Pakistan’ dashboard, using provisional data gathered from Plantwise.
CABI and DPP will now share pest and disease data with all those that attended the forum. Data from Plantwise will be analysed and trends disseminated every quarter in order to help farmers stay one step ahead of pest threats.
Plantwise success in Punjab
The province of Punjab has been at the forefront in conducting Plantwise activities. Now, with the launch of CABI’s new global PlantwisePlus programme, it is anticipated the province will continue its leading role.
PlantwisePlus will support low and lower-middle-income countries to predict, prepare themselves for and prevent plant health threats in a changing climate – reducing crop losses and empowering farmers to increase income, food security, and food safety by producing more and higher quality food.
During the National Forum, Mr. Riaz Ahmad (Director, ATI Punjab) gave his full support to the new programme. PlantwisePlus will focus on (a) strengthening detection of and response to pest outbreaks; (b) providing public and private agricultural service providers with better digital advisory tools to support farmers in sustainable crop management; (c) enhancing the availability of nature-positive and low-risk plant protection products to reduce reliance on high-risk farm inputs; (d) increasing consumer demand for and supply to local markets of safer, higher quality and locally produced food.
It was also agreed that Punjab Government will extend its backing of CABI’s other programmes and projects in the region and continue to support work to strengthen food security post-COVID-19.
Plantwise has also been implemented in Pakistan’s Sindh region, with good results. Mr. Hidayatullah Chhajro (DG, Agriculture Extension Sindh) said the administration was committed to linking Plantwise with ICT Sindh and the National Data Centre to create an agricultural information resource for farmers in the region.
Mr. Habibullah Shah, the Agricultural Extension director for the Balochistan region was also present. The region’s focus is currently on creating national organic policies for seed systems, biopesticides, and certification. Mr. Shah was keen for CABI to train their technical staff on organic farming protocols.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir province joined the Plantwise programme last year. Agricultural secretary for the region, Dr. Muhammad Bashir Butt, said CABI has helped increase food security and improved rural livelihoods by providing farmers with the knowledge they need to lose less of what they grow. As a result, the region is keen to continue plant clinic operations.
Interstate quarantine policy
Dr. Fazal Rehman, Director of Agriculture Extension, Gilgit Baltistan, put forward the region’s interest in strengthening the interstate quarantine policy for provinces in Pakistan. He stressed the importance of cooperation between the different regions and organisations.
The meeting concluded with a note of thanks from CABI’s Dr. Babar Ehsan Bajwa and Dr. Muhammad Naeem Aslam, the Country Coordinator for Plantwise. The next National Forum is expected to take place in early 2022.
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