Marriott Hotel, Islamabad
AMBASSADOR BLOME: I am delighted to join you in celebrating the Pakistan Agricultural Development project, a $20.9 million dollar U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded initiative with a wide array of impressive accomplishments.
Together, we provided 63,000 farmers with training on using Good Agriculture Practices. We introduced new production techniques and improved post-harvest storage and processing. And we established model plots with select farmers and private sector services providers to demonstrate the benefits of these practices. Additionally, we created jobs for 600 women in Khairpur and Sindh through the establishment of three date-pitting centers. Pakistan Agricultural Development grants enabled farmers to build high-efficiency drip irrigation systems, a tomato processing unit, cold storage facilities, and banana packing houses. And through marketing and credit programs, the project strengthened commercial linkages with both upstream and downstream businesses.
These accomplishments align perfectly with the objectives of the U.S.-Pakistan “Green Alliance” framework. Through the “Green Alliance,” our countries are working together to increase agricultural productivity and farmers’ incomes, while also preserving soil and water resources.
Agriculture is a cornerstone of Pakistan’s economy, and the United States and Pakistan have and will continue to broaden and deepen our cooperation and collaboration across this important sector.
In addition to the Pakistan Agricultural Development program we celebrate today, scientists from USDA and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research joined forces to develop biopesticides specifically for Pakistan’s growing conditions. Together, we are finalizing a regulatory framework to allow the marketing of eco-friendly crop protection products. And we are providing farmers with tools to use fertilizers more efficiently.
With KP’s Sustainable Development Unit, we are training women farmers, building irrigation schemes, and partnering with the Food and Agriculture Organization to sustain alternative livelihood opportunities in the Newly Merged Districts of KP.
USDA endowments established more than 20 years ago at five Pakistani institutions continue to fund research and training in agriculture. And we will continue to explore additional opportunities to promote sustainable agricultural practices, improve productivity, and reduce the environmental footprint of the agricultural sector – including effective water management, efficient fertilizer, smart irrigation, methane abatement, and other 21st Century tools, techniques, and technology. These innovations create jobs, lower costs, reduce pollution, and strengthen Pakistan’s climate resilience.
As Americans, we know the critically important role that farmers play in our societies. President Biden likes to say, farmers are the backbone of our country, and it’s not hyperbole — you feed your communities, your country, and the world.
The United States and Pakistan are both working to offer farmers, ranchers, and foresters new revenue streams, help farmers adopt climate-smart agricultural practices, and give them more market options and fairer prices.
We know that Pakistan’s broader economic challenges have acute impacts on agriculture. Farmers face continually rising production costs and fluctuating climatic and growing conditions. At the same time, increased food production is essential to meeting the demand as Pakistan’s population continues to grow.
The presentations that we heard earlier on all that you accomplished through the Pakistan Agricultural Development Project not only demonstrate your hard work and commitment to this project. They are inspiring examples of the progress that is possible with smart risk taking, innovation, and the collective strength of our resources and relationships.
To those of you who traveled from Southern Punjab and Northern Sindh, I know a farmer’s work is never done, so I greatly appreciate the special effort and the time you took away from your operations to be here today.
And Farrukh, I want to thank you and Winrock International for being such good partners with USDA in initiating and implementing this initiative.
And in closing, I congratulate all of the project participants that we heard so much about today on the Pakistan Agriculture Development project’s success.
Together, through projects and partnerships like this, we can build a brighter and more prosperous future for the Pakistani people.
Thank you very much.