Farmers in Pakistan are set to benefit from a new collaboration between UK-based crop research organisation NIAB and the Government of the Punjab.
The two organisations want to improve crop productivity and sustainability across the Punjab region by training and supporting government agricultural advisors on the latest agronomy research and information.
A group of 64 senior extension workers, from the Punjab Agriculture Department in Pakistan, visited NIAB in Cambridge earlier this year for the initial training programme. The course, run through ARTIS, NIAB’s training platform, provided three one-week blocks of training in soil and water, pest and disease management and crop nutrition, amongst other topics.
NIAB CEO Dr Tina Barsby OBE (see image) and NIAB Business Development Manager Steven Tompkins recently visited the Punjab Agriculture Department, including tours of demonstration farms in Sheikhupura and the Ayub Agri Research Institute in Faisalabad.
The purpose of the visit was to explore opportunities for further collaboration between the two organisations, and included a Commitment of Cooperation (CoC) to undertake projects which would benefit rural communities and stakeholders engaged in agriculture. The Department is taking the lead in advancing its agriculture advisory services, using digital tools to reach out to all farmers within the Punjab province. Recent interventions include empowerment of farmers through access to credit, pest and disease warning systems and access to on-demand advice via smartphone applications.
Dr Tina Barsby said “The Punjab Agriculture Department’s strategies for enhancing research and extension are impressive. NIAB has an international outlook to its work and we see this collaboration as an effective way of ensuring that our work has maximum impact internationally.”
NIAB will apply its expertise in agronomy, crop modelling, digital decision support tools, pest biology and resource-use efficiency to enhance the Department’s current approaches to agricultural best practice. Dr Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Additional Secretary – Agriculture, with the Punjab Agriculture Department said: “We are excited to work with NIAB in linking our programme of work in the Punjab to the excellent crop science and knowledge being developed in the UK.”