Pakistani Farmers' Tour 2016

Delegates from Pakistan's agricultural universities and private farmers experience all that California agriculture has to offer in just ten short days.

Tour delegates pose for photos, August 2016.
Tour delegates pose for photos, August 2016.

Tour delegates pose for photos, August 2016.

Tour delegates pose for photos, August 2016.

In August of 2016, a delegation of Pakistani farmers and university administrators visited California for a ten-day technical tour of agricultural research and production facilities. The purpose of the visit was to learn about innovative farming practices in California, with additional focus placed on the relationship between university research/extension and the local agricultural industry. Conducted under the exchange program of the U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Agriculture and Food Security (USPCAS-AFS) and funded through USAID, the technical tour covered a wide range of UC facilities and private farms. The delegation included three vice chancellors from agricultural universities in Pakistan and nine progressive farmers, four of whom serve on advisory bodies for the USPCAS-AFS.

Arriving in Fresno after a long flight, the tour delegation officially started with a visit to the Wonderful Citrus Facility in Delano where they toured the world’s largest citrus facility. The mandarin processing plant spans 800,000 square feet, employs approximately 1200 people, and can process 5600 5-lb. bags of citrus per hour during peak season. From there, the delegation traveled to the Lindcove Citrus Research and Extension Center in Tulare County, where Director Beth Grafton gave a detailed presentation about the University of California Agricultural and Natural Resource (ANR) System and how researchers collaborate with farmers to share vital information. Several of the participants were impressed with the efforts of researchers, university faculty, extension specialists and industry, and many were also astonished with the diverse crops grown in the region.

On August 9th, the delegation toured the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching Research Center in Tulare, the leading research facility in the state for dairy science. The research center hosts outreach education seminars, workshops and extension events throughout the year for veterinarians, producers, and other dairy industry personnel and professionals. From there, the tour traveled to the UC Westside Research and Extension Center in the San Joaquin Valley and the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension (KARE) Center in Parlier. Operated by the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) of University of California, the centers supports applied research from several California campuses and USDA in fruit, nut, and crop production. It was relayed to the delegates that the California agriculture industry prefers unbiased and credible information, and the ANR centers are diligent in providing accurate research information and ensuring its delivery to farmers through extension activities.

The delegation was excited to visit the farm of Ashiq Javed, a Pakistani-American farmer growing grapes in the Central Valley. He started his business in 1992 and grew from 10 acres of land to over 400 acres. Several of the Pakistani farmers asked questions about the costs of production, operations, and harvesting—Mr. Javed answered each inquiry, providing additional insight into precision irrigation for citrus crops, government regulations, and the functionality of the extension system in California. After the farm visit, several of the delegates discussed how best to encourage an extension system in Pakistan that orients both industry and academia towards problem-based research. The tour delegation visited other Pakistani-American farms, where they learned about irrigation diversion for rice and industrial drying for peaches.

One the highlights of the tour was meeting with the passionate Sacramento-based Pakistani diaspora. A delicious dinner was served and afterwards there was a formal discussion session. Mr. Rashid Ahmad gave an overview of Pakistani-Americans of Sacramento and also briefed about the history of the USPCAS project. He praised the dedication of Dr. Iqrar Ahmad Khan and Dr. Jim Hill for securing the grant from USAID and elaborated on the efforts of Sacramento based Pakistani community to establish support for the USPCAS initiative.

The tour delegation met with university officials from UC Davis on August 12, who gave presentations on the history of UC cooperative extension and the academic programs offered at UC Davis. Jan Hopmans, Associate Dean of the International Programs Office, discussed the sustainability of the USPCAS and its efforts towards increasing capacity, linking faculty, and reforming curricula in conjunction with the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. Afterwards, the delegates visited the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at Russell Ranch to learn more about integrated teaching and extension activities on a long-term research facility. They also traveled to the National Clonal Germplasm Repository near Winters and were given a tour of the Foundation Plant Services laboratories on the UC Davis campus.

After visiting the UC Davis laboratories and field sites, the delegation attended presentations from UAF exchange scholars who were finishing their visits to UC Davis. Dr. Nadeem Akbar presented his research observations from working with Dr. Bruce Linquist on California rice production, and Dr. Khurram Zia discussed the intricacies around public intellectual property and commercialization which he observed during his experience with the UC Davis Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA) Office.

On August 16th, the tour delegation visited the Seed Biotechnology Center, a UC program that supports the $1 billion seed industry in California, where Director Kent Bradford presented on the research activities and educational activities of the center. Afterwards, the group split in two, with half of the delegates visiting potato fields at Zuckerman Family Farms and the other delegates visiting alfalfa production fields with a cooperation extension specialist. The day ended with presentations from the California Crop Improvement Association (CCIA), the official seed certification organization of the state, and the Agricultural Improvement Project (AIP), a USAID-funded project improving extension practices in Pakistan.

After a whirlwind tour, the visiting delegates were given an opportunity to reflect on what they had seen and learned. The overall impression from the delegates was that the visit was very informative and useful. In the words of one farmer: “My ten days in California were equivalent to 10 years of education”. Many delegates appreciated the partnership between farmers, industry, and researchers, and felt that this model of cooperation needed to be established in Pakistan’s own agricultural practice. Another farmer praised the extension system, commenting “Knowledge that remains on papers is useless until and unless it is not applied in the field. Let us be very practical in converting knowledge into practice, so that our farming community can uplift our agriculture”.

Nearly all of the delegation agreed that improving Pakistan’s agricultural system would require greater cooperation between the universities and agricultural industry. Several recommended establishing cooperative information centers focusing on problem-based research, and others emphasized the need for integrating students and practitioners further into applied agricultural research.

The U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies (USPCAS) is educating and training the next generation of scientists, engineers, and policy makers through innovative academic programs crucial for Pakistan’s development in agriculture and food security. Through applied research, academia-industry collaboration, and policy formation, USPCAS enhances Pakistan’s economic growth and prosperity. USPCAS was made possible by support from the American people through United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

This web page is made possible by the support of the United States Government and the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this web page are the sole responsibility of UC Davis and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Profile written by Levi McGarry.