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Agri Overview

Strengthening the extension services                                     Home
By Asif Maqbool

Pakistanís economy has been diversified over the years but agriculture still is the largest sector of the economy. With its present 22 per cent share in the GDP, it accounts for 44.8 per cent of the total employed labour force. It serves as the base sector for the countryís major industries like textile and sugar and bulk of the exports.

Agriculture also contributes to growth by providing raw materials, as well as being a market for industrial products. What happens, therefore, to agriculture is bound to have a substantial impact on the overall growth GDP.

Pakistan has basic ingredients such as fertile land, irrigation water, hard working farmers and certified seeds. The need of the hour is to utilise these which can be possible through proper policy- making.

Good management suffers due to the shortage of technical expertise which mostly leads to the failure of our food policy. Previous experience shows that the majority of farmers failed in getting minimum ceiling price of wheat and this created a big gap between the demand and supply thus putting the country in the list of food deficient. Farmers have not proper storage, packing and distribution facilities.

Agriculture is facing problems like low productivity, unfit irrigation water, adulterated chemicals, non-availability of modern technology etc. Here the extension workers can play an active role if they carry out the following functions and duties:

* Convince the farmers to implement latest technology.

* Provide necessary information to farming community.

* Exchange and discuss problems and suggesting remedial measures.

Pakistan is a developing country and our farmers are yet to comprehend the advancements taking place around the world as they are illiterate. The extension worker should promote agriculture and its allied industry in line with the WTO rules and regulations.

Human resource development is the main tool for enhancing agricultural productivity. It will not only increase the resource base productivity but can also play a vital role in reducing the pre and post-harvest losses, judicious use of irrigation water, balanced fertilizers, and recommended doses of pesticides and insecticides. It will reduce per unit cost of output, vital for competing with other developed nations.

For creating awareness about the WTO agenda among farming community we need objective-oriented policies. They should know about different agreements related to agriculture and their responsibilities and how the new world trade order will affect their profitability and how to it can enhance the same. The role of extension workers need to be reorganized. The government should provide them with the facilities for performing their duties and allocate to them specific areas.

Suggestions: The following suggestions are necessary for the betterment of the present conditions of our traditional farmers through the efforts of extension workers:

* The role of institutions is very crucial in this case. The government should begin training programmes for extension workers.

* The government should monitor extension workers performing their duties.

* Facilities such as motorcycle, fuel and other requirements should be provided to them for visiting every farmer.

* Farmers should be persuaded to adopt the latest techniques. Extension workers should motivate them by estimating and presenting the profitability of new techniques.

* The ignorant farmers should be informed by the extension worker about the use of ISO-certified products and the rules and regulations of the WTO.

Courtesy: The DAWN;

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