CABI in Pakistan has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Agriculture Department of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) Government to strengthen collaboration for the CABI-led PlantwisePlus programme aimed at growing safer and higher quality food through sustainable approaches to crop production.
PlantwisePlus will help countries predict, prepare themselves for and prevent plant health threats to help reduce crop losses, increase livelihoods and, ultimately help towards greater food security.
The programme will more comprehensively support governments and farmers to grow the quantity of food required and improve the quality of food produced in a changing climate.
The MoU was signed by Dr Babar Ehsan Bajwa, Senior Regional Director, CABI-Asia and Mr Mahmood Asghar, Director, Agriculture Research, Gilgit-Baltistan, to implement activities of PlantwisePlus.
Mr Iqbal Hussain, Deputy Director IPM, Gilgit-Baltistan, Mr Abdul Rehman, Deputy Director Programme CABI, and Dr Muhammad Naeem Aslam, CABI Country Coordinator Plantwise, also attended the ceremony at CABI’s Rawalpindi office in Pakistan.
Dr Bajwa said the government is convinced and enthusiastic about undertaking quality assurance and accreditation of Plant Clinic operations, processes, and outcomes under the Plantwise programme.
He added that the government believes that the plant clinic network should be extended in GB. The partners were also committed to supporting the implementation of the agreed activities under all four work packages of the PlantwisePlus programme.
Dr Bajwa said, “The government intends to collaborate with a shared vision to address the country’s agricultural challenges and food insecurity issues through PlantwisePlus, which they envision as the best option for long-term support to agricultural development and smallholder farmers.
“Moreover, this programme links with new and existing extension approaches, especially with the introduction of digital tools and authenticated diagnosis/identification of pests and diseases.”
This includes the use of the CABI Horizon Scanning and Pest Risk Analysis tools as well as the control of the insect/pests by biological control agents. The supply of safe and nutritious food will also be increased through enterprises driven by women and youth.
Dr Bajwa added, “CABI is always on the front foot to provide technical support to national agricultural system.
“Under the framework of MoU, we seek active collaboration for the development of agricultural policy and projects in Gilgit Baltistan and other regions of the country; to improve and mainstream sustainable agriculture development for poverty alleviation of resource-poor farming communities.”
Earlier, CABI in Pakistan signed MoUs with Agriculture Departments of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir regions for a smooth implementation of the PlantwisePlus programme.
Partners acknowledged the efforts of the CABI in Pakistan, and vow to enhance future collaboration, in strengthening the national agriculture system and for farming communities to improve their livelihoods.
Pakistan is one of six PlantwisePlus countries that will effectively serve to ‘prove-the-concept’ for the programme in its delivery of digital innovations. These will bring efficiency in plant health management and have strong potential for broad application. The other countries are Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Bangladesh and Uganda.
Main image: Dr Babar Bajwa signs the MoU with Agriculture Department of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) Government to strengthen collaboration for the CABI-led PlantwisePlus programme (Credit: CABI).
Authors: Dr Umair Safdar, Yasar Saleem Khan, Abdul Rehman, Dr M. Naeem Aslam.
The new PlantwisePlus programme builds upon CABI’s Plantwise and Action on Invasives programmes and will particularly empower farmers to increase income, food security and food safety amid a changing climate, which can exacerbate crop losses.
PlantwisePlus, for example, will draw upon a range of existing CABI open access products and projects. These include the CABI BioProtection Portal – a free tool to enhance awareness and uptake of biocontrol and biopesticide products by growers and advisors – and the newly launched CABI Digital Library and factsheet app.