FAISALABAD - Despite manifold increase in the volume of major crops' production, the share of agriculture sector in the gross domestic product has declined to around 22 per cent in year 2010 from 60 per cent in 1950. On the other side, the contribution of manufacturing and services sectors to GDP and employment registered a sharp rise. This was revealed at the concluding ceremony of international conference titled "Urban and Peri Urban Agriculture: Empowerment and Value Chain Management", arranged by the International Centre for Development and Decent Work in collaboration with Office of Research Innovation and Commercialization (ORIC), University of Agriculture Faisalabad. Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad was the chief guest while MPA Engineer Rana M Afzal Khan and German scientist Dr Andreas Buerkert were guests of honour. Department of Agriculture Economics Chairman Prof Dr Muhammad Ashfaq and Prof Dr Rao Asif Ali Khan also spoke on the occasion. PARC Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad stressed the need to expedite efforts to persuade the farming community to adopt modern technology in order to increase per acre yield. He told the audience that around 80 per cent of the farming community consists of small farmers so a comprehensive plan should be devised for addressing their problems in a bid to strengthen small farmers in particular and the agriculture sector in general. Our linkages with the farming community are weak, causing low production, he said, adding we should learn from the emerging economies of the world having similar circumstance and environment to that of Pakistan. He quoted the example of Brazil Rural Development Programme in this regard which he said brought the tangible results for the uplifting of rural areas. He also called for transferring the certified citrus seed to the field for the promoting of citrus sector. He said that UAF was the hub about the knowledge and researches in the field of agriculture especially citrus. MPA Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan stressed the need to push the industry out of cities as the waste of the industry is playing havoc with the health of the people. Prof Dr Andreas Buerkert from Germany, while briefing the audience, said urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) can make an important contribution to supplying food and income opportunities to the rapidly growing urban population of developing countries. He also stressed the need to take the industry out of the cities. Department of Agriculture Economics Prof Dr Muhammad Ashfaq said in 1947 agriculture sector was employing 65 per cent of the labour force, earning more than 90 per cent of foreign exchange. Out of the total population of 33.2 million, more than 28 million (85%) were living in the rural areas. But due to a virtual collapse in the infrastructure, weakened administrative capacity, large scale movement of people across the Eastern border and use of traditional practices, productivity of the farm sector remained very low, keeping the rural population highly vulnerable and poor, he said. He said Pakistans population has been growing at an average rate of around 2.2pc, which is much higher than that of the developing countries. He said rising incidence of rural poverty, low farm wages, and slow and uneven growth of the non-farm rural sector has been forcing the fast growing rural population to move to the urban areas. Prof Dr Rao Asif Ali Khan also spoke on the occasion. The opening session of the conference was held on Oct 19 and was chaired by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Dr Ansar Pervez while PARC Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad presided over the concluding session.