The Government welcomes the active involvement of experts in agricultural technology to become advisors and motivators to farmers, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said yesterday. He said that in this era of knowledge economy, farmers needed guidance from technical experts because they were unable to understand and put into practice information provided to them. “Based on observation, farmers in the rural areas are using technology and modern techniques only if they are given guidance by dedicated and capable extension officers,” he said in his speech at the opening of the International Conference on Agricultural Extension 2008 (AGREXO8), here. The text of his speech was readout by the Ministry’s Deputy Secretary-General Planning Datuk Ibrahim Mohamed. Mustapa said that in this respect the Ministry, through its departments and agencies, would undertake bigger roles so as to improve the efficiency and modus operandi of the present support services. “The challenge to rejuvenate the agriculture sector and its importance in ensuring food security, especially in this situation of food crisis, has caused some countries to strengthen the roles of the Ministry in order to increase productivity to ensure higher levels of production,” he said. Mustapa said that in overcoming the urgent challenge of sharp increases in food prices, the Ministry had been given the responsibility to revitalise the agro-food sector.