PARC forging partnerships with CABI, USDA, and USAID

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Agricultural Research Council in collaboration with Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), with support from USDA and USAID, organized a Stakeholder Engagement Workshop under the program “Regulatory Harmonization in Pakistan for MRLs and Biopesticides” at National Agricultural Research Center, Islamabad. The focus of the event was the importance of Maximum Residues Limits (MRLs) for pesticides. Maximum residue limit(MRL) is the highest level of a pesticide residue that is legally tolerated in or on food when pesticides are applied as per Good Agricultural Practice.Various stakeholders involved in research commissioning and research implementation attended the workshop, including scientists throughoutNARC system, CDRI, ERP-IPEP, Director, AZRC Umerkotand extension workers from provincial departments of agriculture, private sector and from leading agriculture universities of Pakistan.

During the event, Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali, the Chairman of PARC, commended the collaborative efforts of CABI with the support of USAID and USDA in reducing the exposure of MRLs and aflatoxin in crucial commodities of Pakistan. He stressed the importance of eradicating such issues at the grassroots level to generate greater economic benefits for the country. The Chairman of PARC also reassured attendees that PARC would continue to work with CABI to implement initiatives that prioritize the health of both people and plants. Dr. Ali underlined the role of MRLs as a technical barrier to trade and emphasized that these initiatives would contribute to improved trade relations with neighboring countries.

Dr. Babar E. Bajwa, Senior Regional Director- Asia at CABI, extended a warm welcome to all the participants attending the workshop. He highlighted that the CABI and PARC partnership aligns well with the contemporary approaches taken by developed nations to address crop health challenges. He went on to share that the establishment of the first Aflatoxin Biocontrol Laboratory at CDRI NARC was a direct result of this collaboration.

During the event, Mr. Ira Frydman, the Director of the Climate and Sustainable Growth Office at USAID Pakistan, commended the collaborative efforts of the implementation partners, which had successfully developed the first-ever aflatoxin biocontrol product. This product is expected to provide a sustainable solution for controlling aflatoxin in corn in South Asia, and the group had also drafted guidelines for the registration of biopesticides in the country. This innovative bio-control approach is currently being implemented in the chili fields of Sindh. Mr. Christopher Rittgers, the Agricultural Counselor to Pakistan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), praised the researchers from PARC and CABI for their dedicated efforts that made this project a success. The participants also visited the Ecotoxicology Research Program at NARC and expressed admiration for the analytical capabilities of the ISO/IEC accredited Pesticides Residues Testing Laboratory at ERP, NARC.

The event concluded with an engaging question and answer session where participants discussed ways to collectively enhance the capacity of our national scientists. Ideas and perspectives were exchanged on how to foster collaboration and innovation, and the importance of continued investment in the development of our scientific community was emphasized. The participants agreed that ongoing efforts are necessary to build a sustainable and robust research infrastructure to meet the needs of the country and tackle emerging challenges.