Pakistan farmers receive assistance to learn water-saving management, improve agriculture sector

The University of Sargodha (UoS) and the University of Canberra (UC) joined hands to help Pakistani farmers better manage agricultural affairs under a project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Dr Muhammad Afzal, Dean Faculty of Agriculture, UoS and Dr Heaney-Mustafa Sandra, Principal Investigator of the ACIAR project ‘Developing Approaches to Enhance Farmer Water Management Skills in Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh in Pakistan’ signed a letter of agreement (LoA) on Monday in this regard.

The four-year ACIAR funded project, led by University of Canberra and jointly implemented by Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), Islamabad, Society of Facilitators and Trainers (SOFT), Islamabad and Social Sciences Research Institute (SSRI), National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad, aims at helping Pakistani farmers better manage irrigation on small- and middle-sized irrigated farms.

Its objectives include; determining the successful elements of existing on-farm irrigation water management initiatives and farmer training models in Pakistan; developing and testing farmer tools for on-farm soil water, nutrient-monitoring and supply chains, together with a system for collecting and collating the data for collaborative, problem-based learning; developing and testing effective, efficient and scalable approaches to improving farmers’ irrigation water and nutrient management skills; and identifying the effects of improving farmers’ irrigation skills on irrigation profitability, labour, water and energy efficiency and social capital of farming households.

Addressing the signing ceremony, Dr Afzal said: «UoS and the project staff will build a team of master trainers to provide further training to farmers at a grassroots level to develop approaches to manage water management skill through extension learning models. This project will help to create awareness among the farmers to develop their own skills for water saving in the area.»

Dr Heaney-Mustafa Sandra was hopeful that the initiative will help solve irrigation and other kind of issues faced by the farmers in Pakistan. She said that they use collaborative problem solving model in the project which is about assembling a team of water engineers, agriculture service providers, soil scientists and others whoever the farmers think they need.

«Through filed facilitators, we train local farmers so that they could teach other members of their fraternity because farmers trust each other more than they trust an agricultural scientist or anybody else,» she added.

The LoA is to initiate collaborative relationship between ACIAR project and UoS for the purposes of enhancing ties between the institutions and improvement of research in the field of agriculture.

According to the agreement, the ACIAR Project will provide one scholarship via National Project Partner, PCRWR, to a student of MSc (Hons) Agricultural Extension, Faculty of Agriculture, the University of Sargodha.

The project, besides helping UoS develop special case studies and research publication as outcome of this research support, will provide a chance to student and relevant faculty of UoS to attend seminars, workshops, trainings, and visit project site under the project in Pakistan.




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