ISLAMABAD-Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are making significant contribution in almost every walk of life, however our agriculture sector is mostly reliant on traditional methods but it is now time to align the pace of agricultural development with the progress in the field of information technology.

This was stated by Dr Babar Shahbaz, Principal Investigator, from University of Agriculture Faisalabad while inaugurating online advisory services and community outreach centers in two villages (Abidabad and Suprai) of tehsil Noushera Virkan of Gujranwala district. He told that the use of information technology for agricultural advisory has become unavoidable in the current scenario because it is rather difficult to gather large number of farmers due to current Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Babar Shahbaz further informed that University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) and Engro Fertilizers Ltd. are jointly working an online advisory portal and community outreach centers for the benefits of farmers. These centers have been established with the support from Technology Development Fund (TDF) of Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. He said that farmer-researcher interaction is very important to address multiple problems of small farmers.

Keeping in view our cultural norms, one community outreach center has been specifically established for women farmers so that they can seek expert advisory from their homes.

Abid Ilyas Dar, project director Engro Fertilizers Ltd. told during the occasion that these community centers are equipped with computer, internet and related software. Farmers can directly contact with the agricultural experts from their villages for online advisory in different aspects of agriculture and livestock. Abid Dar also introduced happy seeder machine and informed that the farmers are using this machine for sorting and grading of wheat and rice seeds and therefore can make their own seeds and sell in the market. Dr. Babar Shahbaz, Principal Investigator said that the purpose of community outreach centers is to provide training opportunities to the farming community within their villages about latest agricultural technologies with the help of modern information technology tools. The farmers can access latest information about crop and livestock diseases, marketing issues and post-harvest techniques within their doorsteps.

Progressive farmers of the area appreciated the efforts of the project team and thanked University of Agriculture Faisalabad and Engro Fertilizers and HEC.