Nearly 30 Pakistani government officials and agricultural industry representatives completed a six-year US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsored training programme at a ceremony in Islamabad.
The graduation was presided over by US Embassy Islamabad Agriculture Counsellor David Williams, Department of Plant Protection Karachi Deputy Director Muhammad Tariq Khan and Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) Director Pakistan and West Asia Dr Babar Bajwa.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has invested more than $4 million in this six-year distance learning project initiative to support the government of Pakistan’s efforts to increase agricultural trade.
The goal is to strengthen Pakistan’s ability to comply with international trade rules to increase its commodity exports and help the country prevent the importation of harmful plant diseases and pests.
Since 2011, USDA and partners, CABI and Texas A&M University, have joined forces to create a distance learning project to bolster Pakistan’s sanitary and phytosanitary (also known as SPS) skills and knowledge.
With interactive workshops supplemented by online training modules, the USDA SPS Distance Learning project is advancing Pakistan’s adoption of international plant and animal health standards by training 30 Department of Plant Protection officials and other Pakistani agricultural professionals.
The workshops and training modules focus on a range of topics, including pest-risk management, market access and inspections.
“Proper regulation of exports and imports is the key to meeting the demands of foreign buyers and protecting Pakistan’s domestic agriculture and consumers,” said Williams during the ceremony.
“We are hopeful that these courses will serve as a resource for Pakistan’s regulators,” he added.
The success of these training modules in Pakistan has made SPS Distance Learning Modules a key component of a new USAID initiative called the Food Safety Network, which will expand the curriculum to include animal health and food safety and deploy them globally in several languages.