ISLAMABAD (APP) - A trilateral US-Pakistan-Afghanistan Forum on Agriculture has made a robust start in its first meeting held in Qatar; with United States making initial commitment of $100 million as first tranche out of a hefty fund it promised to bolster agriculture in Pakistan and Afghanistan. More money will flow as concrete projects get underway, US Deputy Under Secretary Agriculture Burnham Philbrook observed in the plenary session. According to a message received here Friday, the meeting was organized in Doha by the US Embassy in Pakistan for security reason and to avoid visa and other complications envisaged in holding it in the United States. The Pakistani delegation, that comprised nearly two dozen top agriculture experts and officials, was led by the director general of the trilateral secretariat Zahoor Malik. Working groups comprising experts from the three countries in their deliberations focused on areas of food security, trade corridors and water management. Malik announced that the next meeting of the forum would be held in Pakistan in April. Pakistan voiced its concerns on the dam being built on River Kabul with Indias assistance and suggested a profound engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan to address these concerns. Philbrook said development of agriculture in both countries was part of the strategy to boosting their economies, uplifting living standards of their people and winning the hearts and minds of the rural populace. We believe that peace depends on improving the lot of the people for which development of agriculture is vital because more than eighty per cent population depends on it, Philbrook remarked. He said the United States intends to vigorously pursue the goal of agricultural growth adding that in case of Afghanistan it would also work as an incentive to farmers to stop planting poppy. Agriculture is key to making peace sustainable Philbrook said while pointing out that drug trade is a major source of instability and funding for militancy in Afghanistan. Responding to points raised by Malik in his welcome speech regarding the tardy approach adopted by the United States in the past in committing funds that has hampered progress in formulating policies and designing projects, Philbrooke assured that adequate and prompt funding would be provided to launch viable programmes in agriculture. He said the US secretary agriculture during his recent visit to the region felt more determined than ever to build international awareness about the importance of Afghanistans agricultural economy to its long-term security and sustainability. He referred to last years trilateral summit in Washington attended by president Barack Obama and his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts Hamid Karazi and Asi Ali Zadari during which they agreed on a roadmap for the progress and prosperity of people of this region. We, too, are here in the midst of a great challenge and understand that generating sustained economic development in Pakistan and Afghanistan will not be easy. But we will not be deterred. Malik said the United States has been a generous donor to developing countries in promoting their economies but its assistance has failed to produce desired results. In this context we hear our American friends expressing frustration why people hate America despite all the goodwill it has shown in helping the developing countries, Malik said. One major reason for this state of affairs is that the US assistance has failed to trickle down to real stake-holders- the under-privileged sections of society who have become poorer over the period of time, he said. In order to move in the right direction, we have to acknowledge our past mistakes and stop enriching the rich and empowering the poweful, Malik said. He further said, People are sceptical and there is also a trust deficit as people are not sure if the Americans would again wash off their hands, as in the past, and leave everything high and dry. Philbrook said the United States and its allies are determined this time not to abandon the people of this region and would do everything to become their partners in peace and prosperity. Afghan deputy minister Saleem Kundozi said his governments agricultural strategy has three pillars; to protect and restore the environment; to grow agricultural production and productivity; and to foster agri-business to boost exports and family income for creating new jobs on and off the farms. He underpinned the importance of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan and said his country can learn from the broader experiences of Pakistan.