His Excellency Wouter Plomp, Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Pakistan, has received an update on the CABI-led project which aims to build the capacity of 950 smallholder potato growers in the Punjab region.
The ‘Capacity building of potato growers in the Punjab’ project aims to enhance the capacity of smallholder farmers in four core potato growing districts of Punjab through intensive training on advance potato production practices.
This includes the sustainable and safe use of pesticides to tackle pests and diseases of the potato crop as well as increasing the farmer’s skill in selecting high-quality seed and proper use of fertilizer and the handling of the crop post-harvest.
Mr Plomp was keen to meet the key stakeholders and partners of the project and visited the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF). The ambassador was accompanied by Vice Chancellor UAF, Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, along with other representatives of UAF, Dr Umair Safdar, Development Communication Executive and Project Manager, CABI, and the CABI project team.
The contribution of the UAF in uplifting the livelihood of the smallholders was briefed by Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad. The project specific overview and role of the UAF in the project was presented by Dr Ijaz Ashraf, Project Focal Person, UAF. Dr Waseem Akram, Director External Linkages, UAF, presented the ongoing collaboration with the international institutions/organizations and was interested to carry forward such relationship with the Kingdom of the Netherlands in research and development.
Later on, an interactive session included the ambassador with students and master trainers. This was organized so that the ambassador shared the vision and scope of Netherlands government in advancing the agricultural technology in Pakistan. He also briefed the audience about the agriculture landscape, livestock, research and development in the Netherlands.
Mr Plomp was specifically interested in gaining insight from the students and master trainers about the scope of this project. He addressed the questions raised by the students and the master trainers specifically related to potato varieties from Netherlands.
He also lauded the steps being taken by the CABI project team to provide hands-on training to the potato growers and UAF for their technical backstopping. Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad appreciated the approach of the project as it is not only imparting training to the male smallholders but also to the women engaged in the various stages of potato value chain.
After this vibrant interactive session with the students and master trainers, the Ambassador also took a tour around the agriculture exhibition accompanied by the CABI project team and UAF representatives.
The CABI project team also showcased their extension material developed on the advance potato production practices. He also appreciated the way project is achieving good progress and strengthening the bond among different project partners.
Earlier, Dr Rene Eschen, Research Scientist, Ecosystems Management, and Risk Analysis and Invasion Ecology, based at CABI Switzerland, also visited the small-scale potato growers of the village 42/D Depalpur, District Okara on the farmers’ field days organized by the project team.
The event was also attended by key stakeholders including the Potato Research Institute, Sahiwal (PRI), Potato Growers Cooperative Society Pakistan (PGCS), Department of Agriculture Extension Division Sahiwal, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF) and input suppliers.
Dr Eschen and representatives of the stakeholders also appreciated the project team in their attempts to conduct such activities to sensitize the smallholders regarding advance production practices to enhance potato productivity.
Main image: Ambassador H.E Wouter Plomp (front centre) and UAF representatives receiving an update on the capacity building of potato growers project (Credit: CABI).
Ms Maila al Saba Shah
Yasar Saleem Khan
Dr Ijaz Ashraf
Dr Umair Safdar
Dr Hafiz Mehmood ur Rehman
Dr Kausar Khan
Dr Hassan Raza
Find out more about the ‘Capacity building of small-scale potato growers in Punjab Pakistan’ project here.
The project is funded by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and partners include the Agriculture Extension Department, Punjab, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan Agriculture and Research Council and Wageningen University & Research.
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