ISLAMABAD: The United States-funded workshop on youth engagement in agriculture kicked off today in Islamabad. Three facilitators from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are conducting the three-day workshop this week to support The Pakistan Water Dialogue and Soil Health and Fertility projects.
This workshop uses the Positive Youth Engagement model from USDA’s 4-H program, which has been active in the United States since the late 1800s. The workshop will train participants from Punjab, Sindh, KPK, and Baluchistan to identify ways to engage emerging young leaders in Pakistan’s agricultural sector. The workshop seeks to build upon USDA’s seven-year engagement promoting the demonstration, diffusion, and adoption of best management practices and technologies in watershed rehabilitation and irrigation and soil health and fertility.
Seventy-five senior officials, technical experts from the federal and provincial ministries, universities, and NGOs are attending the event organized by USAID, USDA, World Learning, and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).
The USDA facilitators leading the workshop are Dr. Lisa Lauxman, the Division Director for Youth and 4-H at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture; Hilary Landfried, a program manager with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service; and Benjamin August, a program coordinator with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
USDA, with support from USAID, began working in partnership with ICARDA from 2011 to 2016 on Watershed Rehabilitation and Irrigation Improvement in Pakistan: Demonstrating and Disseminating the Best Practices and Technologies to Help Rural Farmers. The project established over 40 demonstration sites, published 150,000 brochures, held 240 farmers field days, and reached 14,000 farmers. USDA and ICARDA partnered on Improving Soil Fertility and Soil Health in Pakistan through Demonstration and Dissemination of Best Management Practices for Farmers from 2013 to 2016. This program held 125 farmer field days, training over 11,400 farmers on soil-conservation techniques. Due to these efforts, more than 1,500 farmers have already adopted one or more of the promoted technologies. USDA also partnered with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) from 2013 to 2015. This program brought together key stakeholders and USDA technical experts to develop the Pakistan Water Dialogue Consensus Action Plan. USDA and ICARDA are currently collaborating on the Water Dialogue Phase II and the Soil Health and Fertility Phase II programs.