ISLAMABAD - Agriculture experts at a seminar, organised here on Saturday by the Institution of Engineers Pakistan’s (IEP) Rawalpindi-Islamabad Chapter (IEP-RIC), expressed serious concern over decline in the farmers’ income, which, they said, was primarily due to less use of advanced technology.

World’s renowned agriculturalist Shaukat Khan, who has been associated with the World Bank, USAID and other international institutions, in his key-note address, cautioned that non-seriousness and disintegrated approach towards agriculture at the government’s level could prove to be disastrous for the country’s overall economy.

It was an interactive seminar, presided over by the IEP-RIC Chairman Hafiz Muhammad Ehsanul Haq Qazi. Prominent speakers included, among others, Arjumund Sheikh and Prof Dr Attaullah Shah.

The speakers underlined the need for paying more attention to the agriculture sector to get rid of poverty.

They brought home the fact that less reliance on advanced technology had resulted in poor per acre yield of various crops and growing poverty in rural areas.

Giving a detailed presentation on sustainable agriculture development and major issues related to it, Shaukat stressed that wide gap between the incomes of bread-earners of rural and urban areas should be bridged in order to encourage the farmers to concentrate on development of their agriculture lands.

He regretted that agriculture-related institutions, both in public and private sectors, talked much but failed to deliver on the ground.

Calling for better use of modern technology in order to develop efficient crops’ system, he deplored that currently around 40-year old tractors and cultivator agriculture machinery were in use, which showed complete neglect on the part of policy-makers.

He also stressed short and long-term measures to reduce income inequality and poverty in rural areas.

Shaukat hoped that certain hurdles and anomalies could be overcome by adopting development plan at the union council’s level.

“Lack of investment trend in agriculture, as compared to other sectors, is also a matter of serious concern.

“The government needs to change its priorities: it should not just focus on urban and rich areas. Agriculture is a back-bone of the country’s economy, and it deserves topmost priority in policy-making,” he emphasised.

He also hoped that in the upcoming budget pro-agriculture measures would be introduced to ensure country’s better future.

IPE-RIC Chairman Hafiz Ehsan said the organisation would continue to hold such events to provide professional guidance to the government and other relevant institutions.

“Such activities are also aimed at sharing and spreading the experience and knowledge of the seniors with young professionals,” he said, and added, “IPE, a body of seniors engineers, wishes to play its positive and constructive role in the country’s socio-economic development.”