Islamabad-The Higher Education Commission Monday held a meeting to discuss collaboration on agro-research, prevailing scenario, challenges and future opportunities in the agricultural universities across the country.

Chairing the meeting, HEC Executive Director Dr Arshad Ali said Research and Development (R&D) was one of the core strategic aims of the HEC.

Since its establishment in 2002, the HEC has initiated, devised and implemented numerous programmes to cultivate a culture of quality and relevant research in the higher education institutions, said a press release.

Dr Arshad observed that magnitude and quality of research had gradually increased, which has been acknowledged at national as well as international levels. “However, this is just a beginning and we not only have to sustain this trajectory, but also to contemplate and ensure that R&D activities should have constructive impact on life of the people of Pakistan through academic, economic and social contributions,” he underlined.

He maintained that the HEC had been at the forefront of facilitating higher education institutions in fostering quality and relevance of research, adding “the agriculture sector is backbone of Pakistan’s economy and HEC is promoting agricultural research activities in the country’s agricultural universities.”

He stressed the need for inter-provincial collaboration to foster the agricultural research in the country.

He maintained that agriculture research board should also be established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir like Punjab and Sindh.

Dr Arshad offered funding to all provincial agriculture departments through universities in different projects.

He said the world was witnessing a dramatic change in agriculture, adding that Pakistan needed to adopt new technologies to cope with the new challenges in agricultural research and education.

Moreover, he assured of providing digital library access to provincial agricultural departments on fulfilment of legal formalities. He also assured his full support to formulate and finalize a roadmap for agricultural research projects.

Dr  Muhammad Latif, Adviser (R&D), HEC, all provincial Agriculture Secretaries, Director Generals and Vice Chancellors of agriculture universities, Sheikh Shakeel, Additional Secretary, Government of Sindh,  Shaukat Ali, Additional Secretary, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ahmad Raza Khan, Secretary Agriculture, Government of Balochistan, and Abdul Sattar, Additional Secretary Agriculture attended the meeting.

Capt (Retd) Muhammad Mahmood, Secretary Agriculture, Government of Punjab, joined this meeting though video conference. Dr Sarwat Naz Mirza, Vice Chancellor, Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi and Dr Noor P. Khan, Vice Chancellor, Agriculture University, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were also present on the occasion. Vice Chancellors of other agriculture universities also joined this meeting through video conference.