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ISLAMABAD: Terming borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)”, “slavery”, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday said that promotion of agriculture sector is the only way forward to make the country economically prosperous and get rid of tough conditions put forth by lenders.

Speaking at the unveiling of Telenor Pakistan’s advanced m-Agri platform, which is aimed at empowering the farmers and rural communities in Pakistan, Qureshi said that if one wants social and economic change, one must have to focus on the agriculture sector.

He said that most of the population is directly or indirectly involved in agriculture.

“The challenge is how to make an indebted Pakistan prosperous. How to get out of IMF slavery? I use the word slavery because when we ask someone for a loan, they put strict conditions,” said the foreign minister, adding that the country has the potential to meet its economic needs easily making better use of water resources and all this is possible through technology.

“We are currently facing some challenges related to agriculture. A large segment of the population is living below the poverty line. Providing employment is the second biggest challenge, while food security is the third challenge. All these can be solved by making the farmer prosperous,” he added.

Qureshi said, “With fast-evolving developments in technology impacting economies around the world, it is important that we take along every person and every sector to match pace of change through digitalisation.

Agriculture is the largest contributing sector towards Pakistan’s foreign exchequer, while employing half of the country’s labor force; this depicts the great potential that can be harnessed through digital interventions to enhance productivity.

KhushaalWatan platform by Telenor Pakistan comes as a promising development to enable the rural and farming community in the country. Interventions like these will ensure progressive and sustainable growth of the economy by enhancing productivity and contribution to the national exchequer.”

Fostering the development of agricultural innovation, Telenor Pakistan is empowering the agriculture ecosystem in the country with the official unveiling of KhushaalWatan platform designed to digitally enable the rural community and farmers.

The platform was unveiled by Minister of Foreign Affairs at Telenor Pakistan’s 345 campus in Islamabad. The event also anchored around a discussion between experts from Telenor Pakistan, GSMA and Tabadlab to contribute towards a report with key recommendations to nurture the agriculture ecosystem in the country.

The agriculture sector contributes 24 percent towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Pakistan and accounts for half of the total labour force in the country.

Developed especially to boost this important sector of the country, the improved and advanced KhushaalWatan platform is equipped with special features, such as live video calls with experts in and out of the field, ranging from livestock experts to medical and legal experts to enable the rural community.

The platform’s custom-made, localised services offer users relevant advice on weather, healthcare, crops, and livestock management along with all necessary information about pests and diseases affecting their produce. With the advanced “KhushaalWatan” platform, Telenor Pakistan is at the forefront in digitalising the agriculture ecosystem for prosperous rural communities across the country.

“Agriculture is Pakistan’s economic backbone and in this era of digitalisation, it is crucial for digital interventions in this sector to enhance efficiency. We are proud to extend our expertise in technology to empower the farmers and rural community,” said Irfan Wahab Khan, CEO Telenor Pakistan.

“I am grateful to GSMA for their global expertise and knowledge as a partner to further the digital agriculture; and for Tabadlab for partnering with us to share the potential and recommendations to make this sector future ready”.

“The GSMA unifies the global, mobile ecosystem to discover, develop and deliver innovation foundational to positive business environments and societal change.

We are excited to combine our experience in the design and development of agriculture-focused services with the innovation-led approach of Telenor Pakistan. And, furthermore, we are delighted to see that the ground-work conducted by the GSMA AgriTech team during the development of the highly successful Khushaal Zamindaar service has resulted in the new KhushaalWatan platform,” said Julian Gorman, Head of Asia Pacific, GSMA.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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