ISLAMABAD   -  The International Funds for Agriculture Development (IFAD) on Thursday reiterated the resolve for continuing its financial and technical supports to Pakistan to promote climate smart agriculture in order to eradicate poverty and  hunger from the rural areas of country.

The Associate Vice President IFAD Donal Brown along with Country Director Asia Pacific Region Nigel Brett called on Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan and discussed the areas of mutual cooperation.

Donal Brown apprised the minister that IFAD is a financial institution, specialized agency of UN for eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries, adding that it supported 27 programs and projects in Pakistan with total amount of $664.5 million which directly benefitted 2.8 million households.

He said that IFAD’s new agriculture strategy would be climate smart and value chain development and Pakistan could take the benefits from it as it was amongst the world’s top producers of wheat, cotton, sugarcane, mango, dates, rice and oranges.

He further said that IFAD’s current portfolio consists of 4 projects at a total cost of USD 380.390 million which included Southern Punjab Poverty Alleviation project, Gwada –Lasbella livelihood support project, economic transformation initiative in Gilgit Baltistan and National Poverty Graduation Program.

Its country program is aligned with government’s development and policy agenda, adding that the ongoing and pipeline projects are facilitating and  promoting skills development, (training, enterprise, value chain development, access to credit and other financial services.

Moreover, he said that the challenges posed by climate, nutrition, water scarcity are also taken into account. He also invited the Federal Minister to attend the IFAD’s next governing body meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, Mehboob Sultan said that government aims to bring revolutionary change in agriculture sector through Prime Minister’s Agriculture Emergency Program especially in the rural areas. He further said that the government appreciates IFAD’s initiatives for sustainable rural development and wants to maintain this cooperation till achievement of objectives.

Mehboob Sultan said that under Prime Minister’s Vision, various schemes for achieving agricultural self-sufficiency were launched.

Most of the Pakistan’s population were living in rural areas and have linked direct or in-direct with agriculture, adding that government are empowering small farmers and women  so that they can support contribute in national development.

Women have a dynamic and independent role in our government’s agricultural projects s and the collaboration of IFAD in this regard will be encouraging.

Pakistan contributes to financial resources of IFAD. Ministry of National Food Security and Research has supported the proposal for opening IFAD’s country office in Pakistan.

Federal Minister also asked the Associate Vice President IFAD for reviewing its policy of shifting Pakistan from highly concessional loans to blend loans. Mr. Brown told that the request will be forwarded to governing body for further comments.