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India has been transformed from a food-deficient to a food exporting country in 6 decades

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]New Delhi: Union Minister for Agriculture, Shri Radha Mohan Singh Ji addressed on Occasion of Conference of Vice Chancellors of Agricultural Universities and Interface with ICAR Directors on 22-23 January, 2016 at A. P. Shinde Auditorium, NASC Complex. Shri Singh said that over the years, the network of Agricultural Universities has resulted in development of skilled and trained human resources which have been instrumental in generating new technologies, their assessment, refinement & dissemination to farming community. He also said that we (in India) have a very large network of public funded agriculture research and education system including, 73 agricultural universities, 101 ICAR institutes and 642 KVKs. I feel we can justify organising such meetings only if we are able to harness the synergies of our institutions and optimise the use of our limited resources to pursue the specified goals efficiently with a focus on the farming community that is our ultimate client Full text of Address of Shri Radha Mohan Singh is as follows: Shri Sanjeev Kumar Balyan Ji, Shri Mohanbhai Kundariya ji, Dr S. Ayyappan, Secy. DARE & DG, ICAR, Shri Chabbilendra Roul, Addl. Secy. DARE & Secy. ICAR, Shri S. K. Singh, Addl. Secy. & FA, DARE, Prof. M.C. Varshney, President, IAUA, Dr N. S. Rathor, DDG (Edn)., Vice Chancellors of Agricultural Universities, Directors of ICAR Institutes, Senior Officers from ICAR, Special Invitees, Representatives of Press and Media, ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure to present here for the interface meeting of the Vice Chancellors of Agricultural Universities, Directors of ICAR Institutes and Senior Officers of ICAR. I am happy that this event here today, brings together all Vice Chancellors, Directors of ICAR institutes, other Senior ICAR officers on a common platform to discuss the ways and means of improving agriculture research, education and extension system, and thus improve agricultural sustainability, productivity and profitability. ICAR’s initiative of organizing such an interactive meeting is praiseworthy. Over the years, the network of Agricultural Universities has resulted in development of skilled and trained human resources which have been instrumental in generating new technologies, their assessment, refinement & dissemination to farming community. Thanks to the concerted efforts of our agricultural scientists, farmers, policy planners and other stakeholders that India has been transformed from a food-deficient country to a food exporting country in the last about six decades. The research in crop sciences has led to release of many crop varieties during the recent past. The quantity of breeder seeds produced is more than sufficient to be put in the seed production chain so as to attain essential seed replacement ratio in each crop variety. I am of the opinion that all technologies generated by the scientists must prove their worth under on-farm conditions. The entire agricultural set-up in the country is for the farmers, who always struggle for food production under several biotic and abiotic stresses. I am therefore, happy to note that ICAR has always emphasized on the development of crop varieties especially resistant to various biotic and abiotic stresses. It is heartening to see India as one among the 15 leading exporters of agricultural products in the world with significant exports of cotton, rice, meat, oil meals and sugar. ICAR celebrated ‘Jai Kisan Jai Vigyan’ Week from 23 December to 29 December 2015 on the birth anniversary of former Prime Ministers Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Late Shri Chaudhary Charan Singh. The celebration was organized keeping in view their immense contribution for promoting use of science for the welfare of farmers. ICAR Institutes and KVKs across the country organized various farmer awareness programs, showcasing and demonstration of new technological advances for enhancing productivity and profitability of agriculture. Progressive farmers, who have successfully adopted latest technologies and reaped the benefits, were felicitated. As you are kindly aware that agriculture needs to attain and sustain an overall growth rate of about over 4 percent. In the past we have been able to reach close to the target but have not achieved it.  In the face of climate change, increasing and emerging abiotic and biotic stresses, the challenge is tough but I feel, with our research capability, the task is not insurmountable. We need to focus on research products that can provide us break-through in yields which can be made accessible and affordable for different categories of farmers. Soil health, water management and energy are going to be the key determinants of our agricultural performance. Our scientists must address the issues pertaining to improving resource use efficiency. The technologies for efficient management, utilization and conservation of resources are needed on priority. Since the demand for food is continuously rising, and land availability is limited, we have to focus on increasing productivity, and on maintaining soil health and fertility. In keeping with UN declaration of 2015 as the Year of Soils, and understanding the need to conserve the most primary source of production – soil, the initiative of launching new measures to provide Soil Health Cards to all farmers in the country in a time bound manner will go a long way in further increasing the production and productivity of Indian agriculture. To create awareness amongst the farmers about the importance of the soil, ICAR celebrated World Soil Day on 5th December, 2015 at 607 KVK and 80 Research Institute/Agricultural Universities across the country.  Notable things is that the Hon’ble Union Ministers, Governor, MP, MLA also graced the functions.  In these programmers, about 2-5 lakh Soil Health Cards ware distributed to the farmers. Recognising the importance pulses as a cheap source protein in human diet, especially for the vegetarian population and the soil nitrogen fixing property of the leguminous plants, the UN General Assembly has declared 2016 as the international Year of Pulses. It is good to see that in the very beginning of the new year-2016, one of our leading institutions, IARI, New Delhi has released PADT-16, a variety of arhar that yields about 20 quintal/ha and matures in 120 days against 160-180 days taken by the presently used varieties. We must ensure that the seeds are made available to the farmers so that the new variety in brought into the production chain at the earliest. I am sure as the year rolls by, we shall see more improved varieties in the field, not only of pulses but the oilseeds, as well. Hon’ble Prime Minister graced the 87th ICAR Foundation Day function and in his enlightening address called upon agricultural scientists and planners to design second green revolution with new vision, dimensions and objectives to address the agricultural challenges in this modern era. He reiterated that second green revolution will begin from the land of eastern India which has immense potential in terms of natural resources and willing farmers to take up experiments in fields. He also suggested increasing area under organic farming and vermicomposting. Hon. Prime Minister called upon agricultural scientists to work upon saffron, green, white and blue revolutions which signify energy, agriculture, milk and fisheries respectively. We need to take the message in right earnest and prioritise our research programmes accordingly. Emphasis has to be on the improvement of productivity and enhancing the quality of the produce to ensure both food and nutritional security and to fulfil the commitment of national food security act, such that there is access to adequate quantity of quality food for all at affordable prices. Research must be undertaken on priority in cutting edge areas with objective of increasing factor productivity, resource conservation and thwarting the challenges of climate change. This presents a major risk to long term food security as it may have multidimensional debilitating effects on agriculture. There is an urgent need to address issues concerning rainfed agriculture which accounts for about 56% of the total cropped area to give boost to national food production. For addressing vagaries of nature ICAR’s National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) is a step forward in right direction. The National Agriculture Science Fund created for solving problems in cutting edge areas and capacity building is a step in right direction. These have to be carried forward in the Mission mode. Livestock feed, healthcare and management are to be addressed in an integrated manner for ensuring intensification in the animal sector. In the past we have encountered several diseases outbreaks, especially in our fast growing poultry sector resulting loss of precious human and livestock life. Changes in livestock production increase the potential for new pathogens to emerge, grow and spread from animals to humans on a global scale. Effective phytosanitary and animal health regimes aided by new vaccines, diagnostic products and tools, and epidemiological information are necessary to survive in the emerging regulatory regime. What we need here is a sound mechanism of surveillance at ground level so that with appearance of first sign of the disease causing organism, control measures are taken at the earliest. Food safety is an integral part of food security, because unsafe food has significant economic costs in terms of health problems as well as cross border trade, which is hampered by inconsistent/poor food safety standards. The latent demand for food safety among urban India is set to grow with urbanization and will also increase acceptability in the export market. I am happy to share with you that Indian Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR-IARI), New Delhi has developed a low erucic acid Indian mustard variety namely Pusa Mustard-30 (PM-30). This variety is low in erucic acid (<2%) and has the best combination of other desirable fatty acids is considered good for myocardial health, besides high yield potential. Moreover, this is first of its kind effort by IARI under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode to launch an indigenously developed health value product with improved oil quality. Higher education is crucial to maintain and sustain growth in agricultural productivity, as it promotes research capabilities and skills to assimilate and adapt the current technologies, and develop the new ones. Agricultural education has to evolve in tune with fast changing national and international scenario.  I am glad to inform that CCEA note for the XII Plan was approved by Cabinet secretariat now and ICAR has initiated several programmes wherein to attract talented students in agriculture and to improve the quality of faculty, schemes such as ‘Student READY’, increasing the stipend for “Rural Agricultural Work Experience” and initiating the fellowship under National Talent scholarship (NTS) for PG students, and Netaji Subhas-ICAR International Fellowships for the Post Graduate students for attracting  and retaining talent in agriculture research. Strengthening of our institutions of research and education for competent human must always be a priority issue for the Council. Considering the fact that globally the state of agriculture is in a flux, the ICAR institutes need to be geared up to respond to new and rapidly changing economic, ecological and technological environment. Realizing the importance of agriculture and higher agricultural education in Indian economy, the guidelines for the establishment of Central Agricultural University has been approved by the Parliament. The MOU has been signed with Bihar government to convert the existing Rajendra agricultural university to Rajendra Central Agricultural University and Bill is introduced in the Parliament. This step will promote excellence in human resource development and strengthen research and extension in the State. It is heartening to inform that Government has decided to strengthen agricultural education, research and extension activities, more so in NE region. Accordingly, a new Central Agricultural University, is to be established at Barapani, Meghalaya. Six new colleges related to agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and food science are also being established under the existing CAU, Imphal. The number of colleges in the North Eastern region will go up from 7 to 13 and four of the six colleges are already established. In Bundelkhand region, Rani Laxmibai Central Agricultural University was established in 2014.  To strengthen the CAU, four new colleges were approved from which one college has already been established and the establishment process of rest three colleges are in progress. Farmers have acquired enormous wealth of knowledge through their years of farming experience. They have perfected several technologies over the years for different ecological regions such as rainwater harvesting in rainfed areas, agri-pestoral system, agroforestry in hilly regions, integrated farming systems etc. These need to be collected, preserved and utilized in harnessing the natural resources. KVKs can play a significant role in ITK preservation and utilization. Ladies and gentlemen, we in India have a very large network of public funded agriculture research and education system including, 73 agricultural universities, 101 ICAR institutes and 642 KVKs. I feel we can justify organising such meetings only if we are able to harness the synergies of our institutions and optimise the use of our limited resources to pursue the specified goals efficiently with a focus on the farming community that is our ultimate client.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

About Sanjay Trivedi

Sanjay Trivedi is honorary editor of Asia Times. He is senior Indian Journalist having vast experience of 25 years. He worked in Janmabhoomi, Vyapar, Divya Bhaskar etc. newspapers and TV9 Channel as well as www.news4education.com. He also served as Media Officer in Gujarat Technological University.

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