Chairperson, Punjab Higher Education Commission, Dr. Mohammad Nizamuddin; Vice Chancellor, University of Veterinary Sciences Lahore, Dr. Talat Naseer Pasha; Professor of Environmental Science, University of Arizona, Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons; Project Leader, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Dr. Otto Gonzales; Country Director, American Soybean Association Pakistan, Dr. Janjua; Distinguished Guests — Assalamu Alaikum.
It is an honor for me to be here with you today for this special event. As many of you know better than I, fish has played an important role in the diets of the people living in this region for centuries. From the lakes and streams of the mountainous north, to the Indus and its tributaries, to the 1,000 kilometer coast line along the Arabian Sea, Pakistanis and their forefathers have created and enjoyed fish dishes such as Tandoori fish, Lahori fried fish, fish tikka, fish curry, and fish biryani.
Unfortunately, today, high prices have made it difficult for many Pakistanis to make fish a regular part of their diet. Coastal and inland fish farming present an opportunity to make seafood available to more consumers at more reasonable prices while generating additional income for farmers, making better use of water resources, providing an impetus for supply chain development, and generating demand for fish feed. Perhaps most importantly, an increase in the supply of farmed fish expands the availability of protein for Pakistan’s young and growing population.
Some might wonder why U.S. soybean farmers, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be interested in supporting a project that improves the quality and usage of fish feed in Pakistan. This is yet another example of the potential benefits of agricultural trade. As trade barriers continue to fall around the world, a crop produced in one country has the potential to benefit fish producers in another, creating new commercial opportunities, diversifying and improving diets, and improving food security.
Despite a small budget, this project has conducted fish feeding trials, developed and aired a fish-feeding television program, conducted seminars, provided onsite technical assistance, organized study tours, initiated feed production, and now, launched this excellent resource for students and professionals who are interested in learning more about fish feeding and nutrition. All of this would not have been possible without the support of the Government of Punjab and the Fisheries Board. We appreciate their cooperation and support in carrying out this project.
In closing, my hope is that the skills, technology, and practices that have been introduced through this project will lead to expanded production, improved yields, higher incomes for farmers, and a robust fish feed industry in Pakistan, not to mention more delectable fish on the restaurant menus and dinner tables across Pakistan.