ISLAMABAD (Staff Report) – Australian government would invest US$ 13 million under its Agriculture Sector Linkages Programme (ASLP) Phase-II to improve living standards of small farmers in Pakistan.

The first phase of this programme was launched in 2005 for the support of Pakistan’s agriculture sector which remained successful.

While commenting on the Phase II of the programme, Australian High Commissioner in Pakistan, Margaret Adamson said recently, it has been the cornerstone of Australia’s support to Pakistan’s agriculture sector.

She also highlighting the achievements of the ASLP Phase I and said it included the uptake of furrow irrigation by nearly 1000 citrus farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, resulting in up to 40 per cent reductions in water usage, and the first successful shipment of mangoes to Europe by a farmer’s consortium.

The High Commissioner informed that Australia is now importing fruit from Pakistan and termed it one of the achievements of the programme.

She said that collaboration between government, business and research bodies, supported by Australian expertise, led by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has been a leading force in the dairy, citrus and mango sectors in Pakistan, and has provided a model for future engagement in agriculture and water between the two countries.

Margaret Adamson said that ASLP will be followed by a similar program that will be known as the Agriculture Value Chain Collaborative Research (AVCCR) programme.

Under design at the moment, it will draw on Australian expertise to assist Pakistan improve agricultural productivity, add value to raw agricultural products and improve access to markets for those products.

AVCCR will complement Australian government’s engagement with other investments in agriculture to provide strategic support to the Pakistan Government in the agriculture sector,” she added.

The High Commissioner said, “Our common climatic conditions, ecological diversity and federal systems of government are an obvious platform of mutual interest to share knowledge and to establish research and technical linkages between our two countries aimed at a sustainable future, food security,environmental protection and economic prosperity for our people.

“We are working closely with the Ministry of Commerce and the World Bank through a $10 million investment in the Pakistan Trade and Investment Policy Program to spearhead national efforts to promote and bolster exports and trade,” she added.