The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT), Pakistani research partners, and the daughter of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, Jeannie Borlaug Laube, celebrated Dr. Norman E. Borlaug's 100th birthday and 50 years of U.S.-Pakistan partnership in agriculture today. Dr Norman Borlaug, who many have called the father of Pakistan’s Green Revolution, I wish to illustrate another facet of our enduring partnership: 50 years of joint efforts to support Pakistan’s agricultural development, especially in wheat production. An event held today at the Marriott Hotel to celebrate Dr. Borlaug's contribution to Pakistan was part of a weeklong celebration highlighting Dr. Borlaug's work and the U.S.-Pakistan agricultural partnership.
He received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1970 for his work in increasing agricultural productivity, first came to Pakistan in 1963 and visited the country many times over the next five decades. His work with Dr. Muhammad Manzur Bajwa and other Pakistani scientists to breed high productivity wheat varieties increased wheat yields by 25 percent between 1961 and 1969. Dr. Borlaug, along with USDA, CIMMYT, Pakistani partners, and scientists around the world brought the "Green Revolution" to Pakistan. The Green Revolution radically increased agricultural yields by introducing farmers around the world to new crop varieties, innovative ways of planting, efficient use of fertilizers, and new technologies for irrigation.
During today's event, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, thanked President Mamnoon Hussain for his participation and encouraged attendees to seek opportunities to continue Dr. Borlaug's legacy and to secure future food supplies. In his remarks, he also emphasized the importance of government and business working together, saying "A strong public-private dialogue and partnership in this sector can ensure that farmers have the highest quality seeds, supplies, and infrastructure; and that consumers have world class products at fair prices."
Dr. Borlaug's work in the 1960s set the stage for 50 more years of agricultural collaboration between the United States and Pakistan. Today, the United States actively supports agricultural development in Pakistan through USDA and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) projects. This support helps increase farmer incomes and improves livelihoods by fighting wheat and cotton diseases, efficiently utilizing and conserving water on farms, enhancing dairy production through better management and control of Foot and Mouth Disease, and fighting sheep and goat diseases.
Building on Dr Borlaug’s wheat legacy, USAID recently launched the $30 million Agricultural Innovation Project. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, four international agricultural research centres, a US land grant university and the apex body of Pakistan’s agricultural research system have put their hands to the plough to give farmers innovative technologies and modern practices. This project will provide tens of thousands of farmers access to improved varieties of wheat and other cereals, as well as access to modern technology for cultivating cereals, growing vegetables and raising livestock.
The United States continues to partner with Pakistani counterparts to address food security issues in Pakistan, combat plant and animal diseases, and to educate scientists and professionals to ensure continued advancement in the agricultural sector.
Pakistan is aiming to develop better linkages with developed and developing countries to benefit from their experiences to enhance trade, investment, technological cooperation and mutual learning to ensure food security and eliminate poverty. The goals of our ongoing cooperation are tripartite, as together: we increase incomes for Pakistani farmers; we improve access to nutritious food for millions of Pakistanis who depend on wheat; and we ensure that Pakistan can secure its most important food sources. I like to think that Dr Borlaug would be pleased with our continued cooperation and hard work. Nevertheless, we must continue to focus, develop and cultivate new solutions because population growth, finite water resources and new diseases threaten the progress we have made so far. We remain fully committed to advancing these important partnership activities to continue to cultivate the spirit of Dr Borlaug’s work to keep Pakistan and the world fed.