University of Sargodha first university to collaborate with UN Food and Agriculture Organization
The University of Sargodha (SU) has become the first public-sector university of Pakistan to join hands with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to enhance institutional capacities in the seed sector.In this regard, Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, Vice Chancellor University of Sargodha and Minà Dowlatchahi, the FAO Representative to Pakistan signed a collaboration agreement on September 7, 2018. Rosana Frattini, FAO Partnership Officer, Pakistan, Dr Shakeel Khan, Seed Sector Consultant, FAO, Islamabad and deans and faculty members of various faculties of the University were also present. The collaboration aims to ensure supply of quality seed to the farmers in line with the Amended (2015) Seed Act 1976 and the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, 2016. It will strengthen the SU Faculty of Agriculture Out-reach Extension Educational Program to build the capacities of the maximum number of stakeholders. The Vice Chancellor, while expressing delight over concluding an agreement with FAO, said: “We take pride in the fact that this is the first-ever agreement FAO signed with any public sector university in Pakistan. We shall cherish this achievement and shall show due commitment in delivering on every specific initiative mentioned in the letter of intent.” He briefed the dignitaries that his prime focus as vice chancellor of Sargodha University is to link the local with the globe and the University, in terms of staff, the faculty and above all the students, has unique attributes that this noble task can be accomplished relatively easily. Minà Dowlatchahi, while speaking on the occasion, said: “This collaboration will present opportunities to small holder-farmers in the area and help promote entrepreneurship and provide employment to young people.” “Through this initiative, FAO will focus efforts on promoting conservation, sustainable use of plants, maintenance of genetic resources and strengthening research on modern seed technology, supporting women and small-scale farmers in Pakistan, linking up with legislation and climate-smart agriculture, water management and creation of rural-urban linkages,” she stated. According to the letter of intent, FAO and Sargodha University agreed to the following capacity development activities:
- FAO will facilitate SU in its endeavor to develop training programs targeting small-to-medium scale farmers, agribusiness and entrepreneurs;
- It will support SU in identifying and selecting short-to-medium term consultants to assist the University in contextualizing research findings to benefit small scale farmers as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs);
- FAO will facilitate the development of a service/technology delivery mechanism and standard operating procedure between Sargodha University and the private sector;
- It will facilitate the SU faculty to pilot new technologies/ practices by sharing knowledge and giving access to its global success stories. FAO e-Learning courses, such as Pre-breeding for Effective Use of Plant Genetic Resources, may be freely integrated into SU graduate-level curricula;
- The FAO-Pakistan Office will facilitate SU in applying online to the FAO HQ Internships Program with a view to potential placement of selected students at relevant project locations.