The Centre for Public Policy and Governance arranged a roundtable discussion in collaboration with the French Embassy, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Pakistan, and the Farm Foundation on “Potential Partnership with FARM Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture Development in Pakistan” on November 6, 2023. Dr. Matthieu Brun, Scientific Director FARM Foundation, was the keynote speaker. The event was attended by Mr. Dylan Gelard, Cooperation and Cultural Attache Embassy of France in Pakistan, Mr. Rana Muhammad Wajid, Project Officer FAO, Dr. Jonathan Addleton, Rector FCCU, faculty members, and students of FCCU. Twenty-plus senior officials from the government, CEOs of Agro-based industries, dairy, banks, NGO Think tank representatives participated and contributed to the discussion. Dr. Kauser Abdullah Malik, Honourable Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research was the guest of honour. The session was moderated by Dr. Saeed Shafqat, Founder and Director of CPPG.
Dr. Shafqat welcomed the guests and participants by acknowledging the ten-year association between CPPG and the Embassy of France, focusing on cultural and educational collaborations. This connection got a boost in 2012, when the Ambassador of France was invited to give a talk at the CPPG. Subsequently, this relationship has been nurtured through various initiatives, including an international conference organized and hosted in 2013 with the support of the Embassy and the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS). Another milestone was the development of an exchange of French scholars’ program through the “Open Doors Pakistan” program that started in 2014 and has been disrupted by COVID-19.
Dylan Gelard, Cultural Attache, thanked Dr. Kauser Abdullah Malik for his presence and Dr. Shafqat for providing a platform for this roundtable. He remarked that Sustainable development can be achieved through collaboration in trade, investment, and research. The Cultural Attaché added that Food security has emerged as a crucial concern for Pakistan, particularly due to the impact of recent floods (2022) that affected regions in Punjab and Sindh. France has made substantial investments in supporting these affected areas through various food recovery programs conducted by civil society.
Dr. Matthieu Brun, FARM FOUNDATION, was the distinguished guest speaker. While making his presentation he emphasised the need for collaboration between France and Pakistan’s research and policy making institutions in food security and agriculture. He elaborated on the Farm Foundation’s role as a think tank, fostering collaboration among food and agriculture stakeholders to establish sustainable food systems. He highlighted the issue of food sovereignty experienced by colonial nations, stressing the necessity for independent and culturally appropriate food systems to address food security, health, and economic dependency issues. Dr. Brun highlighted that food dependency problems aren’t solely confined to developing nations but are pervasive issues in France and Europe.
Therefore, it is pertinent to solve the issues of dependency, Dr. Brun argued. He remarked that food has also been employed as a weapon of power, as can be seen during times of war when there is a high surge in the prices of fertilisers and other food necessities. As a way forward, Dr. Brun suggested that we need to understand the problem of climate change, which is leading to water shortage, food insecurity, and soil degradation. We must move towards innovative agricultural methods and techniques that should be climate-friendly and involve sustainable practices. His talk was followed by a lively question answer session, in which experts, government officials and CEO’s from various organizations vigorously participated.
Concluding the discussion, Dr. Kauser Abdullah Malik, Honourable Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research stated that Pakistan is aware of the issues related to food sovereignty, water scarcity, and food security. He highlighted that these issues are not just related to climate change; rather, there is an involvement of ecological politics that makes it more of a governance issue than a technological one. Dr. Malik underscored that climate change is a fact, and we need to develop policies that are climate-friendly, but at the same time, we need to bring modernization in agricultural practices. He said that we need to see these issues holistically and in the light of global and national politics.
Dr. Jonathan Addleton, Rector FCCU, appreciated the participants for their insightful and engaging comments and thanked them for their participation and meaningful contributions.