By Iftikhar Ahmad

FAISALABAD, Aug 22 (APP):An APP Feature Food security and self-sufficiency is no doubt a worldwide problem and the same would probably remain mission impossible for Pakistan too unless it trains, supports and encourages farmers to utilize modern-day tools skillfully in agriculture sector.
Agriculture being the dominant sector of economy contributes about 21 percent to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). It is also one of the major sources of employment for about 45 percent of the workforce. However, the country has not achieved the required targets of self-reliance in wheat production primarily due to non-adoption of modern techniques. Farmers are usually reluctant to go for change in adopting new techniques to increase agri-productivity.

The agricultural development is only possible through the adoption of modern agricultural practices. The present-day agriculture is more knowledge-based in which modern education has an important role to play.

The diffusion of modern technology has considerably increased growth of all crops including wheat. The new wheat varieties, recommended seed ratio, irrigation, fertilizer, pesticide and regional factors are positively contributing to increase wheat production.

Likewise, educated farmers can easily be trained for responding to latest opportunities, and getting themselves adjusted with socio-cultural changes. Education also provides an opportunity to adapt to modern technology to increase production and income.

Adoption of modern education has extensively been accepted as leading element in agricultural development while literacy status of farmers is an important variable which affects the farmers’ receptivity to innovations and resource allocating efficiency.

Talking to APP, Director Agriculture (Extension) Department Faisalabad Chaudhary Abdul Hameed while explaining reason of non-adoption of modern technology said that majority of farmers were small landholders. Therefore, it was one of the major obstacles towards adoption of new technology in agriculture.

Abdul Hameed said that income of farmers were positively associated with the adoption level of modern agricultural practices. He said that a small proportion of farmers had got information about farming from extension workers. However, majority of the peasants were hesitating to adopt modern technologies for cultivation of crops due to a number of reasons including high rates of agriculture appliances, non-availability of quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides in the market at affordable rates, he added.

The director agriculture said that farmers always hire tractor for cultivation and harvesting of wheat crops. Therefore, he said, they have to bear heavy input cost against getting low yield. “We are educating farmers to use latest technology like combine harvesters which not only save their precious time but also increase per acre yield with low labour cost”, he added.

Deputy Director Research Information Unit Agriculture Department Mudassar Abbas said that farmers through manual methods used to get 10-15 mounds per acre wheat production. He said now with the help of tractor and other technology, the average mound per acre of wheat production has reached to 27-28. The wheat production can be increased up to 70-80 mounds per acre if farmers use modern agriculture techniques, he added.

Mudassar Abbas said, unfortunately, majority of farmers don’t know how to use of modern equipments in agriculture. Similarly, about 80-85 percent farmers had small farms which vary from one acre to 5 acres of land who cultivate main crops of season and fodder for the cattle while using outdated techniques of farming.

Spokesperson of University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) Ahmad Sheharyar said that if farmers make analysis of lands first and then use balanced fertilizers, they can get better yield with low input cost. He said that farmers should use efficient techniques of irrigation which will not only lessen their expenditures but would also help to get bumper crops. The farmers were losing about 40 percent of their yield in post-harvest losses due to non-adoption of modern agricultural technologies, he added.

Zulfiqar Ahmad, a farmer said that about 90 percent farmers had inherited farming profession from their forefathers. Therefore, they depend on the experiences of their ancestors and cultivate seasonal crops only. He said that about 80 percent farmers had knowledge about the use of modern seed varieties for wheat crop, but they don’t have sufficient finance to adopt latest techniques of wheat cultivation such as purchasing high-cost seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and machinery, etc.

The farmer said that although majority of farmers know about the use of latest techniques in agriculture sector. Yet there was no proper mechanism under which quality seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and other agri-appliances were available on proper and controlled rates in the market, he added.

He, however, urged the government to open small agricultural training institutions for farming community along with launching a micro credit program for boosting the use of new technology in agriculture.