rawalpindi - Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan said that agriculture sector contributes 23 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) whereas around 45 percent of the work force is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for its livelihood.

He stated this while addressing the inaugural session of a conference and exhibition on ‘Agriculture Dynamics in Potohar Region 2016’ organised by Office of Research Innovation and Commercialisation (ORIC) of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) in collaboration with State Bank of Pakistan yesterday.

MNA Chaudhary Nasir Iqbal Bosal, MPA Raja Muhammad Hanif, MPA Zaib-un-Nisa, MPA Tehseen Fawad, MPA Surryia Naseem, MD State Bank of Pakistan Qasim Nawaz, Chief Manager State Bank of Pakistan Tanveer ul Islam, students, faculty members, farmers, policymakers, agricultural experts and scientists from both public and private sectors attended the conference.

The federal minister said that it is a matter of concern for all Pakistanis that the agricultural productivity is very low in Pakistan.

He stressed the need for improving agriculture production system on scientific lines to enhance sustainable food production.

He highlighted the importance of developing new products and technologies to promote agriculture sector and said that there is dire need for promotion of agro-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 construction of new water reservoirs and dams in Pakistan is the need of the hour.

He informed that Pakistan is the 5th largest producer of milk and stressed the need for focusing on value addition of agricultural and dairy products for profit maximisation.

He informed that there is a lot of potential in the region of Potohar for fruit industry. He emphasised the significance of orchards and olive cultivation for the agricultural economy of Pakistan and said that high value agricultural products would help 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.

Vice Chancellor PMAS-AAUR, 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.

Earlier, the federal minister also inaugurated agricultural exhibition and planted a tree in the university premises. The exhibition was organised by University Management Sciences Institute 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.