ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Rana Tanveer Hussain and Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson on Tuesday launched the Australia-supported water programme with the amount of 15 million Australian dollars to continue longstanding bilateral collaboration on building capacity to improve water management and boost agricultural productivity in Pakistan. Australia’s Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) was working with the federal and the provincial agriculture and livestock departments, the Pakistan Council for Water Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) and research institutions of the universities to address technical, social, economic and policy constraints hindering growth in the agriculture sector. On the occasion, Adamson noted that Australia has supported agricultural research in Pakistan since the 1980s. “Our continued support through Australian expertise will help Pakistan to build an innovation-based agriculture sector through targeted public investment not only to boost agriculture profitability, but most importantly to ensure food security,” she said. “Australia has more than one thousand companies which can provide advice and technologies in this critical sector,” she announced. The water programme will also encourage advocacy by the government, technical experts and civil society to advocate for effective water resource management and support the government’s efforts towards the development of the National Water Commission and National Water Policy. “Cooperation in water management is a significant and increasing dimension of our bilateral relationship. The water program provides further opportunities for facilitating knowledge exchange between our countries in this vitally important sector,” she said. The water program includes the Australian Government’s 12-year Indus Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio (SDIP) which is mapping the current and future needs of the Indus Basin. Australian scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are working with the Ministry of Water and Power to build the capacity of Pakistan’s water managers in efficient water management. The water program also includes three farm-level projects implemented by ACIAR to improve groundwater management in agriculture.