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11/03/2011

World Bank Roundtable Discussion on Agriculture and Water, 10-11 March 2011

Over 100 participants attended a World Bank  Roundtable Discussion on Agriculture and Water, held in Islamabad, Pakistan from 10-11 March 2011, which was organized with support from the FAO Investment Centre, amongst other donors. The event, which received extensive local press coverage, was led by the Planning Commission of the Government of Pakistan, as part of a series of continuing consultations among its federal and provincial authorities. The findings of these workshops will contribute to the investment plan for agriculture in the country, and help to  align national and provincial priorities with potential areas for support by the World Bank, FAO and other international agencies.

 Agriculture and water representatives at national and provincial level and from development agencies participated in the Roundtable discussions which took stock of Pakistan’s current status, its challenges, and its aspirations for agriculture and water development, drawing on extensive in-country knowledge and international experiences from other countries. A wide range of issues were covered from which three priority areas emerged: technology (agriculture, information and communication technologies, processing), markets, and water use efficiency (engineering, institutions, crop selection).

 In the opening statements, Kevin Gallagher, FAO Representative in Pakistan, emphasized the new challenges facing the agriculture sector following the devastating floods of 2010, as well as those imposed by the enhanced decentralization in line with the 18th Constitutional Amendment. He also highlighted the importance of the lenghty FAO/World Bank partnership in this sector in Pakistan.

 FAO Investment Centre speakers included Turi Fileccia, Senior Agronomist, and  two international consultant experts, Kalim Qamar and Gerry Boyle. Fileccia provided an overview of the development of the seed industry in Pakistan and various options for the sector’s growth. He noted that Pakistan’s seed sector has progressed in development and is maturing, which indicates that the strong oversight and protections once needed and supplied by the public sector can now be increasingly met through a demand-driven market system. The system uses the private sector to supply many agricultural needs to the farmers, but also insures that the public sector guarantees a structure for an orderly seed industry, and that seed supplies reach areas where the private sector is less able to function.  Further investment in such market systems will help ensure a mature growth of the seed sector. Professor Boyle, director of the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority, underlined that knowledge capital is a primary driver of innovation and improvement by the private sector, farmers, processors and agri-business, but the state has a co-responsibility to promote innovation. Effective agricultural knowledge innovation systems are the result of good private-public partnerships. Qamar, an extension services expert, added that development is increasingly driven by market demand and not production. To satisfy this demand, public extension services need to change into pluralistic systems involving government, private sector, civil society, farmers’ associations, universities, individual advisors, with the governments playing coordination and quality control roles.

 The participants have called on the Government of Pakistan for more such forums at national and provincial levels as the Government continues to roll out its investment and analytical programmes. The National Forum on Agriculture of the Planning Commission will be coordinating follow-up work on priority areas identified by the Roundtable participants.

 For further information on the Roundtable presentations and discussions, see: http://www.worldbank.org.pk/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/SOUTHASIAEXT/PAKISTANEXTN/0,,contentMDK:22851365~menuPK:293057~pagePK:64027988~piPK:64027986~theSitePK:293052,00.html