ISLAMABAD - Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Rai Niaz Ahmad has said that immediate measures would be needed to strengthen the agriculture sector as the landholding would further divide down and the number of small farmers was alarmingly increasing and would cross 90 percent by end of the current financial year.

Dr Ahmad, while talking to The Nation, said that the number of small farmers with 12 acres or less land would be increasing due to division of agriculture land between family members, which would increase the cost of agriculture produce so ultimately would result in abnormal increase price of the fruits, vegetables and other agriculture products. He said that the government should come up with concepts of family, corporate and village farming to overcome the problems of subdivision of land among the family members to keep the prices of various crops yield affordable for the consumers as well as profitable for the farmers.

Dr Ahmad further stressed the need for providing incentives to the farmers in the shape of subsidies on agriculture inputs such as fertilisers, quality seeds and provision of soft loans for purchase of tractors and other supporting equipment for doing farming on modern lines. He said that the government should come out of rhetoric of terming agriculture as the backbone of the economy and come up with concrete measures to safe the sector from destruction and putting it on modern lines to make it profitable and compatible with regional and international markets.

Dr Ahmad said that the National Food Authority should be activated in this connection and the prime minister should task parliamentarians to engage the farming community in their respective constituencies and help resolve the problems facing them. The vice chancellor said that the per acre yield of various crops in Pakistan was much lower as compared to other countries and appropriate steps on part of the government would help farmers increase the yield by adopting new scientific measures.

He stressed the need of proper planning for crops cultivation and the areas and the type of land should be identified for various crops and then the farmers of those areas should be given incentives to grow the crops for which the area and land would be suitable.

Similarly, the government should do planning for water conservation and harvesting so that the rain water, which used to go waste would be fully utilised for irrigation purpose.