Call to resolve problems of marginalized rural households

KARACHI: A seminar entitled “Linking social research with science to strengthen agricultural value chains” was held at Sindh Agricultural University, Tandojam. Dr AQ Mughal, Vice Chancellor, Sindh Agriculture University chaired the seminar which was organized by ASLP (Australia-Pakistan Agriculture Sector Linkages Program) Social Research Team based at Sindh Agriculture University.

The key speaker was Dr John Spriggs, Professor, Australian Institute for Sustainable Communities, University of Canberra, Australia. Professor Spriggs said the overall aim of ASLP is for Pakistan and Australia to work together to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor in Pakistan.

However, this is a complex problem that involves not only increasing productivity and economic growth. It also requires responding intelligently to the perceived needs of the rural poor (smallholders and landless laborer households) as well as marginalized groups (women and youth). To deal effectively with this complex problem, it is important for social researchers and scientists to work together to develop effective solutions to the problems as perceived by the poor and marginalized rural households.

Professor Spriggs further said that the role of social research is often under-appreciated and misunderstood by the scientific community. In fact, social researchers have unique skills to go into rural communities and work with them to understand their perceived needs. Social researchers can also help bring the scientists together with these rural communities and help to facilitate a change process that will lead to sustainable improvements in the lives of the low income rural households.

Professor Spriggs commended the work of scientists from Sindh Agricultural University as having an extremely important role to play in the improvement of the living conditions of poor and marginalized groups in rural Pakistan. He said the social researchers also have an important role to play and the challenge is for the scientists and social researchers to find ways to work together to help maximize the outcomes for the rural poor.

The ASLP Social Research Team at SAU is led by Ms Tehmina Mustafa, Assistant Professor. Professor Spriggs and Dr Mughal both commended her on her initiative to encourage collaboration between social researchers and scientists in the ASLP focal village of Hot Khan Leghari and Dolat Leghari. The seminar was attended by the Deans, Faculty members and postgraduate students of Sindh Agriculture University.

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