Farmer Day, the 3rd June, is a creation of the Farmer movement and is dedicated to the professional, occupational, social and economic achievements of Pakistani farmers. It also constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad (1952-2016) has made to the agricultural sector and farmers community in rural innovations, capacity building, institutions building, organisations networking and institutionalisation of Farmer Field School learning system contributing towards prosperity, and well-being of our country.

3rd June Farmers Day Celebration in Pakistan 

Farmers Day Celebrated in Gilgit

Facilitators and Farmers Organization LIFE (Linkages Initiatives for Farmers Education), Gilgit Baltistan organized FARMER DAY in tribute to Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad (late) with participation of Dr. Ishfaq (Chief Guest) Ms Kosar Bano( President LIFE Gilgit) Mr Syed Muhammda...

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FARMERS DAY POSTER published by SOFT and DIAMF 

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BRIEF

Recognition of Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad’s Services for Farmers, Agriculture Sector and Women in Agriculture of Pakistan

Prof. Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad, Ex-Program Advisor, Food and Agriculture Organization (Pakistan office) of the United Nations, Islamabad and Former Chairman, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council served at these platforms for dissemination of research & educational information and development of social organization of rural communities to facilitate agricultural growth of the country and poverty alleviation in the rural areas. His passion of working with and for farmers was contagious and had affected all who were around him. He used all international forums to promote agriculture of Pakistan and its growers by developing linkages with them.

FAO developed Farmer Field School (FFS) approach was first introduced in Pakistan in 1996. The approach did not come into limelight in Pakistan until Dr. Ahmad took it as tool for experiential learning of small farmers in 2000. Dr. Ahmad established National IPM Programme with a strong initiative of large-scale implementation of IPM through the innovative farm level research and farmer education approach of FFS.  The Programme had won confidence of farmers, policy makers and all related national and international stakeholders including international partners. Experiences from cotton had been expanded to other crops and cropping systems. The experience of FFS was proved as an effective means for the dissemination of Better Management Practices (BMPs) in agriculture of Pakistan.

Derived from FFS concept, Dr. Ahmad designed and tested the ideas of  Woman Open Schools, Children Ecology Clubs, Family, Village and Community IPM for wider adoption of IPM Practices and growing healthy crops at the grass root level. These experiences were also shared with countries in the South and South East Asian, central Asian and African regions. At home, the successful testing and implementation of FFS convinced the Government of Pakistan to expand this approach at national and provincial level through public sector funding of National IMP Project, NARC, Islamabad (2004-09), Community IPM Project, Punjab (2004-08),  Fruit & Vegetable Development Project, Govt. of Punjab, Pest Management Plan (Sindh On Farm Water Management Project), Sindh. Under non-government sector, WWF-Pakistan took this approach for Better Management Practices (under The Thirsty Crops Project) and One Village One Facilitator (OVOF) approach for sugarcane under Sugar Producer Support Initiative (SuPSI).

Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad engaged farmers from all over the country without any discrimination of cast, origin and gender. He always tried to keep farmers as front man in agriculture to learn research and disseminate the innovation locally. He inspired and motivated IPM trained facilitators and established a great network of professionals and farmers under his greater organizational setup as Society of Facilitators and Trainers (SOFT). It is a non-profit society created in 2009, after a 10 year experience of national level implementation of FFS-based IPM in Pakistan. It was created with a mission to empower people through developing capacities of individuals, groups and institutions to pursue sustainable and peaceful livelihood development through FFS learning system without compromising their freedom and quality of life. By the idea and efforts of Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad, 37 FFS trained organizations and 7 Non-FFS based organizations are paraticipating in the network established by SOFT. Dr.  Ahmad’s aim was to develop FFS data base to improve the food security system of Pakistan by supporting the policy makers through various analytical tools in respect to changing weather situations, crop production, market mechanisms and others. Dr. Iftikhar had love and respect for small farmer and he tried to convey his message whole of the Pakistan. Now it is the duty of farmers’ organizations to spread his vision and voice for the betterment of agriculture communities across the country.

 

The FAO Alumni Association Network or AAN was formulated to help keep a link between FAO and the leading farmers and their many different organizations. A secretariat was formed to enable farmer-to-farmer sharing of experiences, innovations and success stories across the regions. Under this forum a farmer congresses was held in 2014  with aim to improve the contacts and exchange of ideas and experiences among different farmer groups. Programs with relatively more educated participants were more effective in improving the adoption of farming practices, increasing yields and passing on FFS learning to neighboring farmers living in the same communities.

Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad had shown a remarkable quality of bringing together the research and educational institutions by establishing a programme of post-graduate research at NARC. He led the team designated to establish PARC Institute of Advanced Studies in Agriculture (PIASA) to achieve his dream of integrating teaching, research and extension.

Appreciating the reality that an agribusiness enterprise is essential to meet the upcoming challenges of agro-technological development and its transfer to marketable knowledge-based agriculture, Dr. Ahmad on the instructions of the Government of Pakistan (GOP) established PARC Agro-tech Company (Pvt) Limited (PATCO). The company is facilitating both the public and private sector to cooperate, finance and commercialize their novelties and modernizations for the public at PARC Research Park. During 2011-2012 he served PATCO as its Chief Executive Officer.