FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Secretary IT and FAO Representative Virtually Sign an MoU

26/03/2020 Islamabad/Rome

Mr. Shoaib Ahmed Siddique, Secretary IT & Telecommunication and Ms. Minà Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative virtually signed a memorandum of understanding while sitting in Pakistan and Rome, Italy respectively. The arrangement was adopted to thwart any delay imposed by worldwide social distancing in the wake of COVID-19. 

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. 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.

Ms. Minà Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative Pakistan through a video link 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 Eighty percent of arable land is in small farms in Pakistan, the vast majority still under outdated agriculture systems.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 MoU 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. Both organizations jointly agree to host the “e-Agriculture Innovations Challenge” to be held in Islamabad to address the pressing challenges facing agriculture sector.

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