The Honorable Minister of Agriculture for Punjab Province, Doctor Farrukh Javed
The Honorable Doctor Muhammad Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
The Honorable Syed Fakhir Imam, former Speaker National Assembly, former Federal Minister, and a distinguished agriculturalist in his own right.
Members of the Media and Distinguished Guests,
I am here today to represent a larger delegation of American officials who had hoped to join us in celebrating this important achievement—the ground-breaking of the U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security here at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad.
Our Assistant Administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the United States Agency for International Development, Mr. Larry Sampler; his Deputy Assistant Administrator, Daniel Grant; Dr. Miles Toder, our Punjab USAID Director; and, several of their colleagues had hoped to join us today, but the fog prevented their helicopters from flying from Islamabad.
Nevertheless, their intended presence underscores the importance the United States government attaches to this project. The building we all had a chance to look at earlier will be completed in two years. It will be an architectural landmark located at the heart of the University’s main campus. This energy and space-efficient three-story building will house state-of-the art research and teaching laboratories, an audio-video conference facility, and advanced computer and electronic labs and meeting rooms. The building will also have the capacity to convene policymakers and practitioners to further cutting edge research on areas such as climate change, mechanization, and biotechnology. It’s not just a building, but a venue for transformational partnerships.
Thus, it marks a strong step in our collaboration to foster world-class research and innovation to tackle the toughest challenges we face in the field of agriculture.
The United States remains strongly committed to creating economic growth and employment opportunities for the people of Pakistan and considers the agricultural sector a top priority. We are confident that our investments, in partnership with the Government of Pakistan, will bring long-term, positive growth in the sector.
This growth is vital. Agriculture has historically been the backbone of your economy. It employs more than 40 percent of your labor force and accounts for 21 percent of your gross domestic product. Unfortunately, natural disasters and decreases in agricultural commodity prices have hampered the sector’s competitiveness over the past decade.
The good news is that in recent years Pakistan’s economy has been showing signs of growth. We can capitalize on this progress by supporting increased research and investment in agriculture.
And that’s exactly what this center is here to do. This is not just a building—it is a five-year, $30 million partnership between our two countries that builds on a historic American investment that helped to grow the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, over fifty years ago.
The Center will bridge the gap between academia, government, and industry through applied research and public-private partnerships. It will build the capacity of your workforce in the field of food and agriculture production. USAID will also fund scholarships for talented but disadvantaged young women and men to give them access to quality higher education here at the Center for Advanced Studies, as well as an opportunity to participate in a student exchange program with the University of California, Davis.
I want to acknowledge the strong commitment of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad and University of California, Davis to this Center for Advanced Studies. I greatly appreciate your efforts and partnership.
Together, these two prestigious educational institutions will help find solutions to growing challenges related to food security and the agriculture sector. Narrowing the gap between population growth and domestic food production is critical to boosting economic growth and supporting a healthy population.
Ultimately, our investment in this Center for Advanced Studies will improve educational opportunities and give Pakistan’s next generation an even better chance at success in the agriculture sector. Over the years, our nations have worked together to build many premier educational institutions including the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. I am proud to be here today to continue our partnership through the launch of the Center for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security.
Thank you for your attention.