ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan Tuesday stressed the need to improve agriculture production system on scientific lines to enhance sustainable food production.

He said that agriculture sector contributed 23 percent of GDP whereas around 45 percent of the work force was directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for its livelihood. The minister was addressing at inaugural session of a conference and exhibition on Agriculture Dynamics in Potohar Region 2016 organized by Office of Research Innovation & Commercialization (ORIC) of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) in collaboration with State Bank of Pakistan.

He highlighted the importance of developing new products and technologies to promote agriculture sector and said that there was dire need for promoting the agri sector by concentrating on crop enhancement, livestock, fisheries and dairy sectors development by creating linkages with industry.

Highlighting the importance of water availability in the country, the minister said that development of water reservoirs and dams in Pakistan was need of the hour.

He informed that Pakistan was the 5th largest producer of milk and stressed the need for focusing on value addition of agricultural and dairy products for profit maximization. He informed that there was a lot of potential in the region of potohar for fruit industry.

He emphasized the significance of orchards and Olive cultivation for the agricultural economy of Pakistan and said that high value agricultural products would help to generate better income for farmers in the country, if exported to other markets.

He urged the scientists of the university to play their role to create awareness in farming community about the latest techniques in the agriculture.

The minister appreciated the efforts and developments being made by the University for socio-economic uplift of the forming community with special emphasis on rain-fed agriculture in the country.

PMAS-AAUR, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad, in his welcome address highlighted the aims and objectives of the conference. He said that PMAS-AAUR administration and faculty members are determined for agriculture sector development and initiated different programmes for farmers to produce quality crops. He was of the view that there is a great potential in Potohar area for fruit crops and government should pay special attention for its development.

For better agriculture production we have to shift from conventional crops to olive and orchard farming Vice Chancellor added.Parliamentarians, MNA Chaudhary Nasir Iqbal Bosal, MPA Raja Muhammad Hanif, MPA Zaib-un-Nisa, MPA Tehseen Fawad, MPA Surryia Naseem, as well as MD State Bank of Pakistan Qasim Nawaz, Chief Manager State Bank of Pakistan Tanveer ul Islam, students, faculty members, farmers, policy makers, agricultural experts & scientists from both public and private sector organizations attended the conference.

At the end shields were also presented to the guests and federal Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan. Earlier, Federal Minister also inaugurated Agricultural exhibition and planted a tree in University premises. The exhibition was organized by University Management Sciences Institutes with an aim to bring together all stakeholders on one platform to engage in constructive dialogue, experience sharing and information dissemination.

As many as 100 different stalls including products and agricultural items have been displayed in the exhibition by Pakistani farmers, institutes and industrialists, PMAS-AAUR Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad took dignitaries on visit of various stalls exhibiting agriculture products and machinery.

Federal Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan appreciated the efforts of organizers for this exhibition and urged the farmers to adopt new technologies and improve agricultural productivity for a food secure Pakistan.