LAHORE - Pakistani and Indian legislators and experts have underscored the need for sharing the experiences to reform policies and practices in the two countries which are up against the same issues.

The fourth round of the Pakistan-India legislators and public officials dialogue on Sharing of Experiences on Governance and Democracy took place Dubai yesterday under the auspices of Pakistan Institute for Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

Participants acknowledged and appreciated PILDAT for organising dialogue at a time of unusual strain in relations between Pakistan and India.

The dialogue once again underscored the critical requirement of continuing dialogue and avenues of interaction on sharing of experiences on democratic governance between Pakistan and India.

The participants termed the sharing of experiences as a necessity to reforming of policies and practices in the two countries as both faced similar issues and can find workable solutions through good practices adopted by each other.

In the first session of the dialogue focusing on sharing of agricultural practices from Indian States of Punjab and Haryana and Pakistani Punjab, experts highlighted the need to approach agricultural policies and practices holistically to benefit both the consumers and farmers while achieving food security for both India and Pakistan as the key planks of national policies of both countries.

Profitability to the farmer must be an equal, if not the key consideration of reforms in policies as food security cannot be approached at the cost of keeping farmers poor. Despite the centrality of agriculture to the economy of both countries, experts lamented agriculture and related policy reforms do not get required governmental and legislative focus in both countries.

While both countries face similar challenges though of varying degrees, experts strongly urged the legislators from Pakistan and India to play their role by policy input on agriculture as well as by review of existing policies and initiatives by governments through oversight mechanisms available to them.

Water scarcity faced by both countries, believed participants, poses a far more serious threat than policy makers in both countries realise. Urgent policy and legislative focus, therefore, must be placed on introducing effective water conservation strategies in the two countries.

Participants also urged PILDAT to facilitate cooperation on agricultural research, extension, education, mechanisation, post-harvest management and livestock sectors by forging institutional arrangements among the relevant universities and institutions in both the countries.

Participants highlighted the need for creating linkages on learning from each other in both countries, offering that sharing of agricultural research centres and regular facilitation of kissan melas, educational linkages and dialogue forums and media interfaces must be promoted by legislators in their respective legislatures in India and Pakistan.

In addition, participants also highlighted the need for promoting regular exchanges between farmers, students and experts on agriculture, so that practitioners on both sides remain apprised of good practices.

Participants highlighted need for cooperation in agriculture sector in areas such as seed quality; optimum irrigation practices; tackling climate change together; efficient agro-processing; recharging of groundwater; development of drought resistant crops; exploration of the horticulture, floriculture, livestock, fisheries, and organic farming sectors; use of technology and generally of progressive agricultural practices.

In the second session focusing on sharing of good practices on livestock development, participants highlighted not just the need to learn from each other’s good practices but interact regularly in order to avoid such practices that have harmed one or the other country.

Experts highlighted that animal breeding offers a huge opportunity much like a seed business of agriculture in both India and Pakistan. Both countries could face considerable risks without adequate animal breeding policies and programmes.

Both countries can share technologies and good practices in poultry breeding as well as in fisheries. Participants believed the two countries require active collaboration in livestock in areas including vaccine research, exchange of data on disease monitoring and surveillance, experiences on breed development, animal welfare issues and opportunities in value addition for domestic as well as international markets.

The participants from Pakistan included Senator Mohsin Leghari, Punjab MPAs Qazi Adnan Fareed, Mian Mehmood-ur-Rashid, Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, Muhammad Jahanzaib Khan Khichi, Syed Tariq Yaqoob Rizvi and Sardar Vickas Hassan Mokal, Dr Amanullah, Assistant Professor, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Ahmed Umair, CEO, Green Revolution Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd, Hamid Malhi, Chairman, Punjab Bio Energy Co, Member FAP and Dr Masood Rabbani, Tenured Professor of Veterinary Science, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences.

From India included Mani Shankar Aiyar, Kanwar Pal, Speaker, Haryana Legislative Assembly, Santosh Yadav, Deputy Speaker, Haryana, Ghanshyam Dass, MLA, Lalit Nagar, MLA, Parminder Singh Dhull, MLA, Zakir Hussain, MLA, Jyoti Kamal, Editor, CNN IBN,  Man Aman Singh Chhina, Assistant Editor, Indian Express, Dr M J Khan,Chairman, Indian Council of Food and Agriculture and  Vijay Sardana, PGDM (IIMA).