ISLAMABAD                   -            Ministry of IT and Telecommunication and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations have virtually signed framework collaboration agreement to jointly work for the development of agriculture sector of Pakistan by using information technology.  IT & Telecommunication Secretary Shoaib Ahmad Siddique and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative Minà Dowlatchahi, virtually signed framework collaboration agreement while sitting in Pakistan and Rome, Italy respectively, said press release.  As to control the spread of Coronavirus social distancing is imperative, Ministry of IT is performing all its function through use of ICT. Online signing of collaboration agreement with FAO is an example of performing official duty while ensuring social distancing. The FAO country representative in Pakistan signed agreement while she was located in Italy one of the worst-hit country by Coronavirus. 

Speaking at the occasion, Shoaib Ahmed Siddique said that agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy as it contributes around 20 percent in the overall gross domestic product (GDP) and is also a big source of employment. Low growth, water shortage, environmental concerns, volatile energy prices, rising expectations of consumers – these are some of the complex challenges the agriculture sector is facing today, in the face of diminishing production profit margins for farmers. He said Ministry of IT & Telecommunication would do everything to resolve these challenges through technology interventions by bringing innovative solutions for increased yield and profit margins for the farmers by diminishing the role of middlemen. Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui also expressed deep grief over loss of precious lives due to Coronavirus in Italy and expressed sympathies for deceased families. He also expressed deep grief over loss of precious lives due to Coronavirus in Pakistan. He prayed to Almighty Allah to end this pandemic from the world and save the humanity.

FAO Representative in Pakistan Minà Dowlatchahi through a video link thanked to Federal Secretary Ministry of IT for his kind words. She said that innovation in agriculture in Pakistan is a necessity -- small farmers are not only food producers, they are consumers and also guardians of Pakistan natural resources: soils, water, biodiversity and seeds. Eighty percent of arable land is in small farms in Pakistan, the vast majority still under outdated agriculture systems. Innovation is the process whereby individuals or organizations bring new or existing products, processes or ways of organization into use for the first time. Innovation in agriculture cuts across all dimensions of the production cycle along the entire value chain - from crop, forestry, fishery or livestock production to the management of inputs and resources to market access. It is time to help small-holder men and women farmers in Pakistan innovate at scale, adapt to climate change, increase their incomes and contribute to the transformation of Pakistan agriculture systems and will contribute to sustainable and inclusive food systems and healthy diets in the country.

Through the framework collaboration agreement both organizations vow to collaborate in providing a framework for supporting the formulation and execution of local and/or national projects in Pakistan.

These projects will aim to benefit sustainable and inclusive agricultural and food systems (agriculture, livestock, forestry, aquaculture) to contribute to achieving zero hunger and poverty eradication. Both FAO and MOITT through Ignite will share material such as statistical information, software and maps, made available by the FAO or MOITT/Ignite for use in the activities under this collaboration agreement.