Mr. Neil Hawkins, the High Commissioner of Australia, accompanied by a delegation visited the University of Sargodha (UoS) on Tuesday.
The visit was aimed to foster collaborative efforts between Australia and Pakistan, focusing on the ongoing ACIAR funded project, "Improving smallholder well-being through participation in modern value chains," with a special emphasis on citrus growers.
Discussions centered around the progress of the current ACIAR-funded research project, aiming to ensure that the benefits of the research directly impact citrus growers in the area and also interdisciplinary research on "One Health to address challenges" like antimicrobial resistance, exploration of the climate change nexus with agriculture and water usage were discussed as potential collaborative projects.
The key feature was the development of Sargodha based on the successful model of Riverina in Australia and community engagement initiatives, including short courses for skills development within the local farming community.
Furthermore, efforts include establishing scholarships for University of Sargodha students, the creation of a Precision Agriculture and animal production technologies center, and the development of a mobile app providing farmers with real-time price and consumption data on agricultural commodities.
The delegation also visited the project site at 10 NB, Bhalwal Road, and engaged with local farmers, gaining valuable insights into the challenges faced by citrus growers in the region.
The Vice Chancellor UoS Prof Dr. Qaisar Abbas extended warm hospitality to the delegation led by Australian High Commissioner Mr. Neil Hawkins and presented souvenirs and cultural gifts.