Pakistan and US are enjoying long-term bilateral relations and the latter is committed to serving Pakistani nation especially in education and agriculture which is the backbone of its economy.

US Consul General in Lahore Zachary Harkenrider stated at the groundbreaking ceremony of USAID funded Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) in Agriculture and Food Security Department of University of Agriculture Faisalabad on Tuesday.

Punjab Agriculture Minister Dr Farrukh Javed, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, former Speaker National Assembly Fakher Imam and CAS Chief of Party Dr Bashir Ahmad also spoke on the occasion.

The American envoy emphasised that the US and Pakistan are having unique ties in different areas that would last forever. He said that the US considers agriculture as the priority area as large number of Pakistani people are associated with this sector. He said that US is making tangible efforts to ensure food security in the region. He said that CAS worth $30 million in Agriculture and Food Security would help further flourish the sector with tangible researches and capacity-building. It will also bridge the gap between the academia and industry to find solution to different issues like climate changes, economic crunch and food security. He said that the centre would help the disadvantage people in the field of agriculture. He said in the 60s, professors from Washington States University had developed the capacity of the UAF academia. Now, the partnership with the University of California, Davis will open up new avenue of development for the country. He said that thousands of Pakistani teachers had been trained. He said that to address the energy issue, US assisted projects had added up 1,700 mega watt to national grid.

Punjab Agriculture Minister Dr Farrukh Javed while lauding the steps being taken by US especially in agriculture and education sector in Pakistan has said that Pakistan and the US are enjoying friendly and long lasting ties. He added that 70 percent share in the agriculture sector is coming from the Punjab. He added that the most of the country population is linked with the agriculture sector and it was contributing 21 percent to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that all possible measures are being taken to ensure food security and development of the rural areas. He said that the Kissan Package worth Rs341 billion is the hallmark steps meant for the uplift of agriculture sector and address the issues of the farming community. He said that the CAS is the step to boost the agriculture sector.

UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said that the CAS is a five year project worth 30 million dollar. He said that besides research and development activities, 500 foreign scholarships are being awarded under the project. He said that the USAID funded CAS would open up new area of cooperation to resolve issues of agricultural sector. He said the CAS five chairs including the Climate Chairs; Bio Technology; Precision Agriculture; Agriculture Policy and Outreach had been set up.