FAISALABAD-Punjab Agriculture Secretary M Mahmood urged the agricultural experts to come up with durable solution to the problems of farmers and to increase the productivity and meet new challenges.

He was chairing a meeting of University of Agriculture Faisalabad. UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad and all deans and directors attended the meeting.

He said High Efficiency Irrigation System is not taking off in the country and sought the suggestions from the experts regarding reasons and measures in order to make it a success. He said that they were launching a scheme of interest-free loan for farmers through the smart phones under which Rs25,000 loan will be given for Rabi season and Rs40,000 for Kharif season. He said that in the coming years, increase in per acre production would be linked to the loan.

Huge gap between the productivity of progressive and ordinary farmers exists, he said, adding that awareness and affordability to modern trend will help small farmers increase production. He said that they are putting the ICT among the top agenda as a step towards dissemination of agricultural information including weather, market, use of input and seed etc among the farming community. It will help small farmers catch up to the productivity of progressive farmers.

He said that government had decreased the prices of the inputs by 17 percent and it has also waived off GST on the pesticides. He said that in the coming years, the prices will be further decreased to benefit the farmers.

He said that the government was taking initiatives of establishing Agri Hi Tech Machinery Service Centre and directed the UAF to make the business plan for the purpose. He also called for developing technologies to fight climate change which has emerged as the potential threat. He said that a system needs to be devised to recharge the groundwater. He urged the experts to work on a technology of drilling bore in every acre so that small farmers can get benefit from it.

He said that cotton productivity faced the deterioration as heavy water remained stagnated in the field as there was lack of mechanism to drain it out. He urged the UAF scientists to devise strategies for agricultural problems, policy making and rural development issue.

He said that the government was working on drip irrigation on 20,000 acre in the province in which farmers will pay only 20 percent cost and it will be run on solar energy. He stressed a need to devise a strategy to fight mealybug and other diseases to increase the productivity.