SARGODHA - The University of Sargodha has become the first public sector university in Pakistan to join China's Silk Road Agriculture Sci-Tech Education League.

The League's founding ceremony was held at China Agricultural University (CAU) in Beijing, where the membership certificate was awarded to Vice Chancellor Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad accompanied by Dean of Agriculture Dr Afzal. The two-day event was attended by vice chancellors, presidents and other university officials from more than 70 participating nations from different regions of the world included in the Belt and Road Initiative.

"The League will uphold the concept of peaceful cooperation, opening inclusiveness, mutual learning, mutual benefits and win-win effects and be committed to advancing the close cooperation among the members in areas such as agricultural research, technical application, policy dialogue, talent cultivation and cultural communication," states the Joint Declaration issued on the occasion.

Dr Sun Qixin, the CAU president, in his opening address, said, "The affluent agricultural resources of over 70 countries along the Belt and Road provide extremely large space for agricultural cooperation, which China is already steering through extensive capital investment, technology transfer and product development."

Top officials from Chinese ministries of Commence, Agriculture and Rural Affairs and agriculture research centres also spoke on the occasion. Dr Li Xiaoyun, Chair of the China International Development Research Network, emphasised the enormous contribution that development of agriculture can make to the reduction of poverty, urbanisation, industrialisation and global opening up of the economy.

According to the officials, as a result of CPEC, the agricultural investment cooperation between China and Pakistan is fast expanding from crop-planting-oriented to such fields like infrastructure construction, agriculture products processing and agricultural informatization.

Sargodha University has already benefited from the transition, by following up two agreements it has so far concluded with two leading Chinese agriculture universities: in dry land agriculture with Lanzhou University and in citrus and sugarcane research with South China Agriculture University. Around 61 graduates and faculty members from its Faculty of Agriculture are currently enrolled in post-graduate studies at various Chinese universities, including several in CAU, China's oldest agriculture university.

Membership of the Silk Road Agriculture Sci-Tech Education League will enable the University to benefit from more than 100 full scholarships from CAU alone for its graduates and scholars, apart from other benefits in research funding, technology transfer and product development in agricultural sciences.