A three-day national dialogue engaged multi-sectoral specialists on diversification and sustainable intensification of climate resilient crops and food and nutrition security. In collaboration with HarvestPlus and other partners, the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council organized the dialogue, themed ‘Harnessing Agriculture Potential to Boost Pakistan’s Economy’. It provided a platform for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to deliberate on the latest developments and innovations in agricultural research in the country, including breakthroughs with biofortification.
“Five biofortified zinc wheat varieties have been released by national and provincial wheat programs in Pakistan. Today, 2.1 million farming families are already consuming nutritious zinc wheat and foods in the country,” said M. Yaqub Mujahid, HarvestPlus Pakistan Country Manager.
Zinc wheat varieties can provide up to 50 percent of daily zinc needs for women of reproductive age and children when eaten regularly, thus significantly reducing malnutrition. Millions of smallholder farmers are dependent on wheat as a staple crop for most of their diet, and by consuming it are directly benefiting from this affordable, cost effective, and sustainable approach to reducing malnutrition.
HarvestPlus Pakistan Team Lead of Innovation and Commercialization, Imtiaz Muhammad, spoke at the event about breeding approaches to address climate change challenges and malnutrition. He shared the HarvestPlus experience of promoting climate-resilient and nutritious staple crops to address malnutrition. Muhammad made important recommendations for policy makers to create an enabling environment that can help boost production of nutrient-enriched crops that are both good for health and adaptable to the changing environment.
The Minister of National Food Security and Research, Chaudhary Tariq Bashir Cheema, highlighted the Government’s commitment to promoting the agricultural sector and improving the livelihoods of farmers. The Minister emphasized the importance of research and innovation in achieving sustainable agricultural development and the target of self-sufficiency to ensure food and nutrition security for the population of Pakistan.
The national dialogue was attended by the Chairman of Higher Education Commission, Director Generals of all provincial agricultural research and representatives from research and development institutions, government ministries, partner institutions, universities, international organizations, and the private sector. Over 300 prominent scientists, experts, civil society representatives and media participated in the dialogue.