Rawalpindi-A total of 4,442 graduates of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) were awarded degrees, while 90 students were decorated with medals at the 20th convocation, here on Thursday.

As many as 33 students received PhD degrees, 710 were awarded M.Phil/MS degrees, 1,469 masters degrees, while 2,230 students got undergraduate degrees in their respective disciplines.

Gold medals were awarded to 55 students on their outstanding performance in their academic record while 17 bagged silver and 18 secured bronze medals in the convocation.

Secretary General, Network of Academies of Sciences of Islamic Countries and Former Vice Chancellor of PMAS-AAUR, Prof. Dr. Khalid Mahmood Khan was the chief guest. PMAS-AAUR Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Qamar Zaman, deans, directors, faculty members, graduates and their parents also attended the convocation.

Prof. Dr. Khalid Mahmood Khan, said that agriculture sector is facing the daunting challenge of ensuring food security for ever growing population of Pakistan, which is projected to increase.

He further said that agriculture and livestock sectors have to produce additional food to feed fast expanding population in the face of shrinking land and water resources per capita available for agriculture and looming impacts of climate change on agriculture and livestock sectors.

He stressed that agricultural scientists have the responsibility to come up with smart agriculture technologies and new climate-resilient farming systems especially for the rain-fed areas of Pakistan to enhance agricultural productivity, increase farm profitability and enhance national food security.

He suggested that there is an urgent need to come up with modern cost-effective food processing and postharvest management technologies to build efficient and reliable agri-food value chains for producing diverse value-added agri-food products to substitute imports and increase exports. This strategy can help enhance contribution of agriculture sector to national balance, he said.

He appreciated the pace of the multidimensional development of PMAS-AAUR and stressed the need of applied research in agri-sector, especially in relevance to the arid areas. He congratulated the graduates and also distributed medals and gave away degrees to the graduates.

Earlier, Prof. Dr. Qamar Zaman Vice Chancellor PMAS-AAUR, in his welcome address, congratulated the graduates and said that university is making special efforts to expand its networking with both international and national universities, research organisations of repute through development and adoption of joint strategies to accelerate the pace of education, research, infrastructure and administrative development.

The vice chancellor said that applied research has been strengthening to find out solutions to pressing farmers’ problems, develop innovative technologies and generate predictable outcomes. PMAS-AAUR has also launched digital agriculture initiative to promote automation in farming operations and postharvest handling processes.

He hoped that these initiatives will be helpful to increase agricultural productivity and farmers’ profitability through ensuring efficient use of agricultural resources and minimising postharvest losses, among others.

He also informed the gathering that PMAS-AAUR is promoting hydroponic agriculture, application of biotechnology and genomic research to enhance productivity of quality plant and animal-based products of both domestic and international market.