PR No.95 Islamabad: March 11, 2016

The Minister for National Food Security and Research, Mr. Sikandar Hayat Bosan visited Putrajaya, Malaysia 10-11 March 2016 to attend the 33rd session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Conference for the Asia and the Pacific (APRC). The APRC meets every two years to deliberate on issues pertaining to agriculture in the Asia-Pacific region. The main focus of the 33rd APRC session was implementation of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), improvement of nutrition status in the region and revitalization of smallholder agriculture by connecting to value chains, says a press release received here today from Putrajaya.

In his statement the Minister for Food Security underlined the fundamental role of agriculture for improvement of food security and nutrition and poverty eradication globally. The SDGs offered the best hope for humanity. However, it was a complex framework and developing countries needed assistance for its implementation.

He noted that in recent times agriculture in Pakistan was going through a difficult period particularly due to the drop in prices of agricultural commodities. The government had taken several measures to provide relief to the farmers including the recently announced package worth Rs. 341 billion. To improve nutrition in the country, the government had rolled out the National Zero Hunger Programme and was providing support to the poor through the Benazir Income Support Programme. He appreciated FAO’s support for the improvement of Pakistan’s agriculture sector.

The Minister also participated in a round table discussion on the involvement of youth in agriculture. He noted that rural to urban migration of the youth had increased due to lack of economic opportunities and was a serious threat to the future of agriculture. As a result the average age of farmers was rising. It was essential to create incentives to attract the youth to farming.

On the sidelines of the conference the Minister had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Malaysia, China, Republic of Korea and Japan. The discussions were focused on enhancing bilateral cooperation in the agriculture sector. The Minister also met Director General FAO and the head of FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.