Agricultural Innovation for Pakistani Farmers

Pakistani farmers will get the benefit of an agricultural innovation program due to a partnership between the USAID, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, and the Pakistan Agricultural Research Center.  The agricultural innovation program will work to increase the use of modern technologies in the agriculture sector.

USAID is working hard to boost the economy of Pakistan and putting new technology in the hands of farmers is one way to accomplish that goal.  This will help meet some of the agricultural needs and improve the economic development of the country.  The program hopes to increase agricultural productivity and quality to create more jobs on farms and produce more goods.  Pakistan’s agricultural sector is a major component of its economy, but its slow growth pace is a detriment to economic development. Growth numbers have fallen behind similar nations in recent years and the USAID is hoping to change it.

The project will use scientific methods to develop a model to enable economic growth and improvement to the lifestyles of Pakistani farmers.  Pakistan, the USAID, and the other international partners on this project are committed to a solution that will include research, collaboration, and investments to ensure success.

The project duration is set for four years with a budget of $30 million. USAID will sponsor the research in hopes of encouraging the adoption of new techniques and practices. In addition, the project hopes to increase employment and incomes of rural families. Some of the ways this will be done include land irrigation and through connecting small farmers to major agribusinesses. The USAID has helped over 800,000 rural families increase their farm yields and earn better incomes through their agricultural innovation programs.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: Business Recorder, The Nation

Women Farmers Get Help From USAID Dairy ProjectPakistan’s rural economy has been growing in part due to a USAID-funded Dairy Project.  The project works to help women farmers increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods.  With the project, USAID has trained a group of 5,000 female livestock workers who are available to provide veterinary services and advice on the care and feeding of cattle.  These livestock workers are trained locally and speak the language.  Aside from providing education, the USAID project also provides supplies for animals such as feed, vitamins, and medicine.  The hope is that the USAID Dairy Project will create new jobs and improve the lifestyle of rural farmers throughout Pakistan.

Rural women farmers are a huge part of the workforce in Pakistan. One resident told of how her husband used to work but due to an illness had to quit leaving her as the sole income source for their family.  She was educated through the 12th grade and was able to get a position as one of the livestock extension workers and help both her family and her village.  The hope she will be able to bring to her children and her family is just one of the positive results of the USAID project.

The USAID Dairy Project began in July of 2011 and employs rural women with a high school diploma. They are trained in basic animal health skills and entrepreneurship.  The program has trained 2,470 unemployed women since it began and helps them to earn an average of 2,500 rupees a month. The program aims to train additional 2,530 farmers.  The USAID project has connected rural farmers to livestock experts and pharmaceutical companies and helped them gain additional knowledge and skills.  One of the women involved has been able to treat around 6,000 animals and earn 46,000 rupees. Her household is growing and she is able to reinvest in her own agricultural business.

Dairy and livestock sectors contribute around 11% to the gross domestic project (GDP) of Pakistan. The USAID Dairy Program is helping rural women contribute to the improvement of the sector and earn an income to better provide for their families.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: Pakistan Observer

The widespread strategic implementation of polio immunization has reduced the number of reported cases by 99% since 1988. However, as long as there are countries where polio immunization is not widespread, there is a significant risk of this highly contagious virus exploding. The World Health Organization reports, “[failure] to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.” The strongholds referred to are some of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Polio is a viral infection that attacks the nervous system of non-immunized children. Children under 5 have the highest risk of contracting the virus. Polio sometimes results in partial or full paralysis, but there is no indication of who or why paralysis occurs. Paralysis can occur within a few hours of contracting the virus. Between 5 to 10% of the paralysis cases result in lung muscle paralysis and death.

Anyone can be a symptomless carrier. The infection can be spread without notice through person-to-person contact to thousands before the first case of polio paralysis emerges. The disease enters through the mouth and multiplies in the intestines. The virus is then excreted into the environment and spread through contaminated food and water. Flies are also suspected to transmit the virus.

A global action plan to eradicate polio calls on donors to make a down payment of 5.5 billion dollars which would take us to the 2018 end game. Another 1.1 billion dollars will keep the world polio-free for the foreseeable future. Compared to the 527.5 billion dollar US Department of Defense budget for 2013, this is a drop in the bucket that quantifiably improves human security. Defend our children from polio. Make total polio immunization a reality.

Katherine Zobre
Sources: WHO, Polio Global Eradication Initiative

USAID to Expand Its Teacher Training Project in Pakistan
The USAID Teacher Education Project in Pakistan has expanded to provide teaching services to every province in the country. This $75 million project has been working since 2011 to modernize Pakistan’s education system. With the help of Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission (HEC), over 2,600 students have enrolled in 15 universities and 57 colleges across the country. USAID hopes to see this number increase as more teachers emerge from the Teacher Education Program.

In order to reach out to more potential teachers, USAID realized the need to enlarge its program. Not only will the Teacher Education Project offer more locations, it is also giving 1,900 scholarships to students based on merit and financial need.

This higher education program will be implementing suggestions from a study conducted in 2006 that found flaws in Pakistan’s current teacher training system. The study discovered a trend of the government setting unrealistic goals for its education system and then, when it fails to meet those goals, creating new, also idealistic targets that are never reached. By making its goals more realistic, USAID is confident in its ability to improve Pakistan’s education system by producing high quality teachers.

As Pakistan trains more well qualified teachers, the country will begin to experience higher quality of education for its younger students as well. Javaid Laghari, chair of the HEC, is optimistic about Pakistan’s future, “We hope for a good change, when today’s students become tomorrow’s teachers.”

– Mary Penn

Source: UWN
Photo: BarakatNews

USAID Attacks Poverty At Its Root: The Educational System
In line with goals to lower its global footprint, USAID has brought together faculty leaders from leading universities in Pakistan to develop syllabi to increase the quality of education for fourth and final year education majors completing their bachelor’s degrees.

Among the topics discussed were panels on focusing on trends and models of curriculum development. The faculty and leaders worked in accordance with one another to share their notes and syllabi. This workshop was one of many being held to complete course designs. USAID has hosted this event in an effort to strengthen international and national curriculum development in Pakistan and neighboring countries.

Many border communities in Afghanistan have benefited from the increased push to strengthen educational support systems by USAID. Educating communities in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan helps develop the infrastructure of the entire community. This leads to a strengthened economy and higher standards of living. In turn, a more educated community with access to food and clean water is a community that is less likely to susceptible to terrorist persuasion.

Another benefit of educating people in impoverished communities such as those that lie on the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan is that with a well education populace is more able to contribute to the global economy. By assisting educators in strengthening educational systems and educational support systems, USAID is attacking poverty at its root.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: International News

At the Women in the World Summit earlier this week, Angelina Jolie paid tribute to Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in October because of her activism on educating girls and women. Jolie also pledged $200,000 to an educational fund that will provide money to build a girls school in Pakistan.

The Malala Fund, which will be directed by the girl, is set to build a school large enough for 40 girls to attend. In a video played at the conference, Malala told the audience that she hopes the 40 girls educated at her namesake school will turn into 40 million girls, and said it was the “happiest moment of her life.”

In her tribute to Malala, Jolie told the audience of her story and how the Taliban set out to silence Malala and her message, but only “made her stronger.” Other stars to appear at the Women in the World conference include Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Barbara Walters, and Eva Longoria. Christiane Amanpour was also in attendance and moderated a panel on “The Next Generation of Malalas,” where she spoke to two young Pakistani girls also advocating for girls’ education.

Christina Kindlon

Source: CBC News

A Gift from Madrid to Reduce PovertyLast month, 400 International MBA students from the IE Business School in Madrid went to Pakistan to work on the “LettuceBee Kids” project, a “social enterprise aiming to provide a self-sufficient mechanism of survival to street children.” The IE Business program challenges its International MBA class by exposing students to extreme poverty-stricken areas and countries where they get to participate first-hand in poverty projects. Within the program, the Change in Action (CIA) module was formed in 2008 as a part of the International MBA agenda to fight global problems.

It was challenging to take a diverse group of 400 of the top students in the program from Madrid to reduce poverty in Pakistan, having them brainstorm sustainable solutions for street children in Islamabad in just five days while they did not know much about the country in the first place. Professor Todd Lombardo brought to the table the design thinking concept – which is composed of six stages: understand, observe, synthesize, ideate, prototype, and test – to help the students come up with innovative solutions.

The author of the article, Saad Khan, urges “elite institutions” to get their students to be involved in similar projects and programs. Exposure to extreme poverty not only creates awareness among those who are not directly affected by it, but it allows for an acknowledgment of the costs of capitalism, the lack of business models which are value-based, and extreme disparities in income between the haves and have-nots. Additionally, Khan believes that foreign policies should be tweaked to better address problems of poorer nations, which in turn would help prevent and tackle terrorism.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: The Tribune

USAID Funding Power Station in Pakistan
The first phase of construction on the Tarbela Hydel Power Station, located in Lahore, Pakistan, has been completed. The project, which is being financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), allowed the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) to add 128 megawatts of electricity to the station.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, visited the power station and was briefed by WAPDA Chairman Syed Raghib Shah. Shah said that the WAPDA appreciates the United States’ aid in updating Pakistan’s energy sector, and also stated that these upgrades will allow more consistent electricity to be provided to the people of Pakistan for a very affordable price.

Along with upgrading current power stations throughout Pakistan, WAPDA is also using funds from USAID to construct brand new power stations.

Ambassador Olson stated, “The United States understands that Pakistan is facing an energy crisis and we are committed to doing our part,” and also said that the recent upgrade at the Tarbela station will contribute enough power to provide electricity to 2 million people, and to ensure a consistent source of electricity to avoid blackouts and outages.

As part of a larger project, USAID is providing WAPDA with $16.5 million to repair three additional power stations and to train employees that will finish the Tarbela Hydel Power Station in Pakistan. Besides these three power plants, USAID is also funding additional hydropower projects throughout Pakistan – these efforts include the construction of two dams that will provide an extra 35 MW of power and irrigate 200,000 acres of land.

Christina Kindlon

Source: The News
Photo: Pakistan Today

US AID Fighting Terrorism With WoolQuinoa seems to be on everyone’s mind lately, but for the district of Mastung – a district located on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan– sheep and shepherding account for more than 40% of the economy. Unfortunately, many farmers in Mastung use outdated techniques which limit their production even though demand for wool is high.

To help with this dilemma, USAID has funded an agricultural project in which Australian shepherds, who are among the world’s finest, instruct a best-practices workshop which teaches Mastung farmers current techniques and educate the farmers on how to use current technologies. These new techniques have been combined with direct marketing practices and, with the two disciplines combined, the result is an 80% growth of income for farmers in the communities where these practices have been implemented.

While this type of growth does help border communities in Pakistan, the strengthening of these communities has an unforeseen effect on U.S. national security and global security as a whole. It is no secret that extremist groups target poor communities by offering financial assistance and other forms of aid. In a region that has been plagued with extremist groups such as the Taliban, contributing to the economic growth of communities and helping them remain stable prevents the spread of terrorism and extremist ideology. For the Mastung, fighting terrorism with wool production is a win-win situation.

Not only do these contributions help create a better life for those in the border communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they also help these communities as a means to furthering global security as a whole.

– Pete Grapentien

Photo: Pakistan Today

US AID Working to Further Education in PakistanAs part of a larger effort to further education in Pakistan, USAID has awarded scholarships to 150 students of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The students are enrolled for either the two-year Associate Degree in Education program or the four-year Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education program and are candidates the teachers who will go on to educate Pakistani youth. This is an important part of USAID’s collaboration with the Government of Pakistan in the larger Teacher Education Project. The project, which is slated to run for five years, includes an updated and standardized curriculum in 22 Pakistani universities and 75 teacher colleges.

The USAID Mission Director, Jock Conly, and the Prime Minister of AJK presented the awards, where Conly said that the scholarships are representative of the U.S. government’s committed effort to helping solidify the state of education and prosperity in Pakistan and to help create a “Roshan Pakistan.” He went on to confirm that the US hopes to help raise the bar of Pakistani education by supporting “better prepared teachers.”

USAID hopes that the program will create a much higher standard of education throughout the country. They aspire to hand out over 1,900 scholarships throughout the duration of the program. The U.S. gives more than $110 million to support education in Pakistan annually.

Christina Kindlon

Source: Pakistan Today