Rawalpindi  -  A three day international conference on Training and Capacity Building in Sustainable Agricultural Water Management to address Food Security and Social Instability in Pakistan commenced at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR), here on Wednesday.

The objective of the training was to increase food productivity and security in context of local, regional and economic development of Pakistan using different and new techniques to harvest, store and use runoff water for the sustainable agricultural water management.

The workshop will end on June 29. The inaugural session of the conference was chaired by Prof Dr Sarwat N Mirza, Vice Chancellor PMAS-AAUR while the Italian Ambassador to Pakistan Stefano Pontecorvo was the chief guest of the occasion. 

The session was attended by foreign delegates, researchers, scholars, farmers, mid-level government policy makers, extension agents in the field of environment, agriculture and natural resources, faculty members and a large numbers of students.

The conference was organized by PMAS-AAUR Department of Environmental Sciences in collaboration with Higher Education Commission (HEC), Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (IADC) and National Research Council (CNR) Italy.

The Ambassador of Italy to Pakistan Stefano Pontecorvo, showed his commitment to continue the project and expressed his interest towards the assistance in the field of water rationalization through Italian and Pakistani partnership.

According to him, “Pakistan is facing the issue of water management instead of non-availability, and agricultural water management is a very effective way to dealt with the enormously diminishing level of water.”

He suggested that correct water management practices and awareness programmes should be initiated about the correct usage of water in order to cope with the dilemma. He also lauded the efforts of the whole team for the achievement of the desired objectives and for the socio-economic uplift of agriculture in Pakistan.

PMAS-AAUR VC Prof Dr Sarwat N Mirza stressed the need of managing the country’s water resources in a more efficient, equitable and sustainable way to meeting agricultural production challenges, including increasing agricultural productivity and adapting to climate change, he said, “Water management is central to Pakistan’s agriculture; and despite significant development in raising irrigation efficiency, low agricultural water productivity is still one of the key issues challenging water use sustainability and food security in Pakistan.”

He also expressed his views to disseminate information & knowledge to all the stakeholders including farmers about appropriate practices, technologies, and institutional innovations to ensure sustainable water management.

Dr Pietro Pipi, Head of the Department, VI-Rural Development and Food Security IADC appreciated the efforts of Department of Environmental Sciences and CNR Italy for the achievements of sustainable agricultural water management goals. He said that IADC will continue its support for such kinds of projects in the future as well.

Prof Mauro Centritto, Director Trees and Timber Institute CNR, Italy gave an overview of the project. Moreover, he briefed about the project objectives and shared the achievements and success of the project. Earlier, in his welcome address Chairman Department of Environmental Sciences Prof Dr Azeem Khalid explained the aims and objectives of the conference while a vote of thanks was presented by the chairman.