Dr. Salman Shah, Chairman of the Dairy and Rural Development Foundation
Professor Dr. Nasim Ahmed, Dean of Faculty of Life Sciences and Business Management
Syed Yawar Ali, Chairman of Nestle Pakistan
Mr. Doud Mehman of Engro Foods
Mr. Jack Moser, Chief of Party
Officials and beneficiaries of the Dairy Project
Ladies and Gentlemen
Assalam-o-Alaikum, and good afternoon.
This is my second visit to the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Lahore, and as on the first occasion, I am honored to join with you in celebrating a major outcome of U.S. – Pakistan cooperation—the USAID Dairy Project.
For more than 60 years, the United States and Pakistan have worked together to forge a relationship that benefits the people of both countries. This cooperation has produced transformative ideas and yielded results that are still considered landmark accomplishments to this day—many of which are within the agricultural sector.
Between 1965 and 1970, the American Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr. Norman Borlaug and his Pakistani colleagues worked together to revolutionize agricultural production in Pakistan by developing a highly productive wheat variety that doubled this country’s wheat production. USAID supported this research, which ultimately saved millions of people from starvation and malnutrition.
That tradition of cooperation continues down to the present day Over the last several years, U.S. assistance has helped irrigate more than 491,000 acres of land. We are now working on a new irrigation project that will eventually add 191,000 acres of new irrigated land in tribal areas.
In October, I had the honor of attending the inauguration of the Center for Applied Policy Research in Livestock here at the University. The center, established with support from USAID’s Punjab Enabling Environment Project, is the first policy research center in Pakistan to specialize in livestock and dairy and it will help ensure that new policies, regulations, and laws in those sectors are grounded in the latest scientific research.
The U.S. government is working with Pakistan to boost agricultural productivity by developing new crop varieties and improving management practices. Our assistance is helping small- and medium-sized agri-businesses across the country to access financing and tap into more lucrative markets.
We are committed to strengthening Pakistan’s local private sector and supporting the country’s efforts to develop internationally competitive firms in the agriculture sector. This will accelerate sales, investments, and job growth in Pakistan. We encourage the private sector to take an active role in supporting the economic and social needs of their communities. One great example of how to do that is afforded by Nestle Pakistan through its role in the USAID Dairy Project.
Dairy matters. Accounting for nearly 12 percent of Pakistan’s GDP, dairy is the most significant agriculture subsector in your national economy. It presents huge potential for economic growth and poverty alleviation.
Today’s event, “Valuing Lives through Dairy Development,” is a testament to the U.S. government’s commitment to sustainable dairy development, economic profitability, and social and economic equity for the dairy farmers of Pakistan.
Through this five-year, $21 million project funded by my colleagues at USAID, over 50,000 people—farmers, technicians, and farm managers—will receive training that will improve overall dairy production in Pakistan and raise people’s incomes. By training 7,949 women, this project is empowering a new generation of entrepreneurs. We believe these efforts will maximize the dairy sector’s potential and help Pakistan emerge as a major player in the dairy and livestock market at the global level.
I congratulate all of the Dairy Project beneficiaries who have successfully completed their training. I am confident you will significantly contribute to the rural economy in the coming years, and I look forward to seeing the results of your work.
Thank you for your attention and Khuda Hafez.