ISLAMABAD : Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan said that eradicating rural poverty was one of the most important objectives of the government. Addressing the 37th session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome, the minister underscored that the theme of meeting “Investing in Smallholders Family Farmers”, was highly important for Pakistan since 97 percent of land holders in Pakistan were smallholders family farmers, said a press release. Sikandar Bosan said that to effectively address the challenges of rural poverty, the govt had initiated the Zero Hunger and Family Farming Programme.

He sought IFAD’s assistance in implementing these important national programmes.

The minister also thanked IFAD for its contributions to rural development in Pakistan. According to IFAD statistics, IFAD portfolio in Pakistan represents 11 percent of its regional and 4 percent of its global portfolio, amounting to financing worth US $528 million.

Pakistan is IFAD’s fourth largest borrower after India, China and Bangladesh. Around two million people have benefitted, directly and indirectly, from its funded projects in the country since 1978.

At present IFAD has three on-going projects while some others are at different stages of processing. The Minister encouraged IFAD to undertake more projects in the country, in response to Pakistan’s needs and priorities and consistent with the requirements of the country’s population living in rural areas.

The Minister, who is on a visit to Rome from February 18 to 22, will hold separate meetings with the heads of all the three Rome-based agriculture-related organization viz IFAD, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).