Ministry of Science and Technology will set up Agriculture Technology Taskforce that will be led by University of Agriculture Faisalabad Vice-Chancellor Dr Muhammad Ashraf, said Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, on Saturday. While chairing a meeting of the UAF deans and directors at the Syndicate Room, UAF he said,  the aim of the task force is to strengthen academia-industry and farmers’ linkages, reduce agricultural import bill and address different agriculture issues.

The minister said access to good seed was the major problem for the farming community as markets were having abundant inflicted seed which was hampering to gain good results in the sector. He said poor quality of pesticides was also one of the major hindrance to reaching potential and added UAF should devise standards of seeds and pesticides that can be implemented across the country.

Chaudhry said food authorities of every province, were having their own standards that needed to be uniform. Keeping in view, harmonized national food policy would be mapped out with the help of food experts from UAF, he added. The minister said Muslim world was eyeing on Pakistan to take the lead in science and technology and many countries including Korea, Malaysia, India and others who got independence with Pakistan were excelling in the area of science and technology. However, Pakistan could not get the due advancement in the sectors and the need of the hour was to take concrete measures to transform into a knowledge economy. He said in the 60s we developed rockets and at that time we were inching away from the Soviet Union but after that, we could not compete with the rest of the world in science and technology.

He said October 2 will be declared as the science and technology day in connection with the birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Moreover, the government had allocated a record budget of Rs43 billion for science and technology. The science minister said sciences fair will be staged in coming months in order to showcase and flourish innovative ideas, technology in the country. Applications will be accepted from people July 15 in this regard and the participants in this fair will be provided intellectual property rights for commercialization.

University of Agriculture Faisalabad Vice-Chancellor Dr Muhammad Ashraf gave a briefing about the university’s contributions in the education, science, technology, and agriculture sectors. Dr Muhammad Ashraf said UAF developed ten patients’ technologies and succeeded in achieving top ranking in the research productivity awards. He said UAF had taken up the issue of the development of climate-resilient seeds and small machinery for food security in order to increase per acre production. He said for decreasing fertility and agricultural land, the need of the hour was to adopt modern trends in the agriculture sector to tackle the situation effectively. Smart agriculture machinery was vital to be developed at the national level for small farmers, as more than 90 percent of the farming community consisted of small farmers who cannot afford cost-intensive machinery, Ashraf added.

The Minister along with the vice chancellor visited the different labs including horticulture, soil sciences and food sciences.

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