Agriculture sector has been hit hard due to lack of positive initiatives by the government while it is riddled with problems that need immediate attention. Besides, unemployment has also affected the performance of the sector.
The agenda of the meeting was to assess the problems being faced by agro based industries, role of agricultural engineering in agro-industries to reduce the cost of production, value addition of agricultural products, storage, processing, automation and increase the net benefit of the industry.
Muhammad Nawaz Shareef University of Agriculture Vice-Chancellor Prof Asif Ali chaired the discussion forum while Ex-speaker of National Assembly Syed Fakhar Imam Shah was the chief guest.
During welcome address Prof. Dr. Asif Ali emphasised the need that cost of production could be reduced and crop yield can be increased by adapting modern mechanisation techniques.
He added, “Upgradation of existing agro-based industrial system is the key to support local industry which will ultimately trickle down benefits to farming community.” He said this was possible only by producing industrial oriented trained engineers.
On the occasion, Syed Fakhar Imam said, “The share of agriculture in GDP is 21% and capital input is not available. Unemployment in this sector is prominent and this can be addressed by mechanised farming, entrepreneurship and modern industrialisation.”
He maintained, “In Pakistan, food security is a major issue and it must be addressed with modern farming and industrial techniques.” He strongly supported the idea of establishing agricultural engineering programme with the collaboration of industrial stakeholders.
Similarly, Jahanzeb Dharrala, a progressive farmer, highlighted a serious issue of mixing of salts in waste water which was affecting soil fertility and plant health. He requested the authorities to add courses on waste water treatment with special emphasis to remove salts in the upcoming agricultural engineering programme.
Meanwhile, WASA Managing Director Rao Qasim, told the participants, “WASA is already in the process of establishing waste water treatment plant and needed input from university for fitness of water regarding agricultural usage.”
The participants suggested that agricultural engineering courses should be industrial based to solve the current problems of industry.
They pointed out the course should include subjects related to engineering ethics, entrepreneurship, and special emphasis on metallurgy.
They suggested Muhammad Nawaz Shareef University should commence BSc in agricultural engineering programme based in different disciplines, including agro-industrial process engineering, farm machinery and power, remote sensing and GIS engineering and land water resource engineering.
Others who also spoke on the occasion were AMRI Director Ghulam Siddique, , Water Management Director Zafarullah Sindhu, Agricultural Engineering Director Muhammad Ayub, Mango Growers’ Association president Zahid Hussain Gardezi and others.
Reporter. Problems riddle agriculture sector, say experts. The Express Tribune, March 8, 2017.