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Dr Ejaz Qureshi
THE ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURE
BY GIO BRAIDOTTI
Dr Ejaz Qureshi's journey from a small
farming village in Pakistan, where as a
child he helped tend wheat and maize
crops, to his current role as ACIAR's
research program manager for Agriculture
Development Policy was mediated by education,
he says. His subject of choice was agricultural
economics and the journey culminated in a PhD
from the University of Queensland.
The subject choice is interesting, seeming
to respect his farming family's heritage while
allowing a strongly analytical intelligence to
bring an arsenal of methodologies, including
sophisticated mathematical models, to bear
on the challenges farmers face on the road to
"Agricultural economics lets you make the
best use of limited resources---such as water,
land, labour, capital or public investment---so
these resources can be allocated to maximise
productivity, efficiency, and long-term
sustainability," he explains.
It is a skill set applicable to a remarkably
broad set of problems, from optimising on-farm
management through to framing the most
beneficial national policies and on, ultimately, to
global food security.
"By understanding inefficiencies across whole
value chains and estimating the associated costs,
economists can identify ways to remove barriers
and create pathways to improved outcomes,"
Dr Qureshi says.
Following the completion of his studies, Dr
Qureshi subsequently held research positions at the
University of Queensland, James Cook University
and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and
Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), but
found the research environment most productive
at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organisation (CSIRO). There, his skills
as a senior economist and policy analyst were
predominantly applied to the complex, multi-
faceted challenges related to water scarcity and
best-practice water management in Australia,
including urban water economic modelling.
Dr Qureshi has published close to 100
scientific papers including journal articles, book
chapters, technical reports, conference papers and
policy briefs. His high-profile research work was
recognised with several CSIRO awards, including
the Land and Water Chief's High Impact Studies
Award and the Strategic Excellence Look Out
Award (2007). He also received the Social and
Economic Science Program Award in 2012 and
was offered the Julius Career Award in 2013.
The segue to ACIAR came in 2013, motivated
by a growing desire to assist developing countries
where agriculture is frequently the single most
important engine for greater economic growth,
prosperity and development.
His responsibilities currently cut across 10
developing countries, including Pakistan, and take
He operates stand-alone projects, such as the
highly praised and influential 'Farmers' capabilities,
productivity and profitability' project, which
recently identified the key factors that determine
whether a farming operation is successful or not in
Pakistan's horticulture sector (see story on page 26).
Additionally, his program's blend of economic
and policy analysis is applied throughout ACIAR's
more commodity and resource-based programs,
including land and water resources, agribusiness,
forestry and livestock production systems.
"A key component of my program is
understanding how policies can influence
adoption of outcomes from technical research
and help further development goals," he says.
"This is important because institutional and
policy settings can have a strong influence on
productivity and sustainability in both developing
countries and Australia."
From his visits to Pakistan and meetings with
officials and relevant stakeholders, Dr Qureshi
says the researchers, policy makers and resource
managers are enthusiastic about ACIAR projects
and they see value in the partnership.
"Agriculture is very important to developing
countries," he says. "By addressing all the related
issues that affect farming productivity we can
help increase the prosperity of a country and its
stability, ensuring people get enough food and
nutrients, and have the opportunity to generate
income and acquire purchasing power." n
Dr Ejaz Qureshi, Agriculture Development Policy,
"A KEY COMPONENT
OF MY PROGRAM IS
POLICIES CAN INFLUENCE
ADOPTION OF OUTCOMES
FROM TECHNICAL RESEARCH
AND HELP FURTHER
-- Dr Ejaz Qureshi
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