FAISALABAD. University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) intends to use Faisalabad as a showcase of its inventions, products and technologies in collaboration with business community for which cooperation between industries and academia is pre requisite, said professor Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Vice Chancellor of the UAF.
During a meeting with Rana Sikandar Azam President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI), the Vice Chancellor told that food technology department of the University has been preparing nutrition-rich, hygienic and cheap food items under the brand name of “Unifood”. Cakes, biscuits, jams, chutney and many more delicious items are very popular and are available in UAF main store while new outlets are also being explored to start its marketing at larger scale.
Regarding the UAF, he told that it was established in 1906 as Agriculture College which was elevated to that status of university in 1961. Later Ludhiana University in East Punjab was established in 1972. He termed the agriculture university as mainstay of national economy and told that its share in GDP is 20%. On the other hand in India the share of agriculture is 18% and in USA it is only 2%. Similarly 70% of our population is directly or indirectly related with agriculture but due to weak regulatory system, Pakistan is free for the import of all types of seeds and animals which may spread different kinds of diseases. About per Acer yield, he told that Pakistan is ahead of India in two crops while in other three crops India is leading us. Commenting on infestation of current cotton crop, he told that there are 600 pesticide companies in Pakistan. Most of them change their title every year to hide them after supplying substandard and adulterated pesticides in addition to providing unapproved varieties of seeds. “We must check this practice to save our farmers from collateral damage”, he remarked.
Regarding trade deficit the VC told that our export is stuck up at 20 to 22 billion dollars whereas Bangladesh has excelled in this field. Similarly, export of Singapore has witnessed a phenomenal increase up to 550 billion dollars”, he added.
Quoting the example of South Korea, he told that this country replicated the development plan of Dr. Mehboob-ul-Haq and now there per capita income is 3500 whereas Pakistan was still dwindling at 1000 to 1400. He also mentioned some leading industrialists of Karachi who are generously spending funds on Research and Development. “Our industrialists should also contribute their role in this funding with national spirit to put Pakistan on road to progress and prosperity”, he added.
Responding to a question, about contaminated water, he told that arsenic has been detected in some samples and hence, UAF has been forced to install its own RO (Reverse Osmosis) plant to cater to the drink need of its employees and students.
He further told that we are also getting 1000 liter of milk from buffalos and cows. “Currently it is being consumed by university employees, however, he has directed concerned department to pasteurize this milk so that it sale could be ensured in local market. Quoting his last visit to FCCI he told that the then president had pointed out that there was no international laboratory for the testing of yarn and clothes. He told that now a fully equipped and latest laboratory is available in National Textile University (NTU) and textile exporters must avail from this facility. Underlining the importance of Industry-academia Linkages, he said that university intends to work with local industrialists as it is prerequisite to resolve the problems confronted by the industrialists in addition to opening new doors for value addition. He further told that industrialists must take advantage of the premier education and research institutes housed in Faisalabad. He offered president FCCI to visit UAF with a comprehensive agenda so that we could identify the core issues and resolve the same with the help of highly educated, qualified, proactive and visionary faculty. He also assured that he will depute interns to collect basic data in collaboration with FCCI to formulate future economic policies for the accelerated growth of Pakistan.
Earlier in his address of welcome Rana Sikandar Azam welcomed the VC and told that the objective of this meeting is to strengthen industry-academia linkages and in this connection we want purposeful and result-oriented meetings. He told that business community has some serious reservations about the role and productivity of our scientists. He said that despite of the fact that Pakistan is an agriculture country, we are spending billion of rupees to import tea, edible oil and many other commodities which could be produced within the country.
Regarding trade deficit, he told that our trade volume is 50 billion dollar. Our export is only 23 billion dollars while we are getting another 19 to 20 billion dollars from foreign remittances. He told that we are forced to get fresh loans to meet deficit of 7 to 8 billion dollars. About tax collection, he told that our collection is 4200 billion rupees, out of which 2100 to 2200 billion are paid as installments of loans and with only remaining 2,000 billion it is quite difficult to run the country or launch new development projects. He further told that common men held scientists responsible for the import of agriculture commodities. Similarly share of Pakistan in branded and processed food items is also very negligible. “We are also importing soya been from America or India. Commenting on the expected shortfall in current cotton crop, he told that we will have to import 5 million bales of cotton to meet our domestic requirements.
Continuing, he said that we have a proactive R& D department but due to lack of basic data about Faisalabad we are unable to contribute our role in policy making. He requested VC to depute university students to collect reliable data about agriculture and industrial sector. He also stressed the need to promote cultivation of organic vegetables and hoped that UAF will produce best quality vegetables which would be provided to public at subsidized rates. He told that FCCI members could also allocate their vacant pieces of land to start tunnel farming.
Later Dr. Habib Aslam Gaba offered vote of thanks while Shafique Shah, Rana Ikram Ullah, Saeed Iqbal, Umar Daraz, Rana Saeed, Khadim Hussain, Habib ur Rehman and Aun Shah participated in the question answer session.
Earlier prayer was also offered for the deceased father of the Vice Chancellor.