NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the progress of agriculture research, extension and education in India through videoconference on Saturday. Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development & Panchayat Raj, both the Ministers for State for Agriculture joined the review meeting. In addition to the senior officials from PMO, Secretaries from Departments of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Dairy and Fisheries were present.
Dr. Trilochan Mohaptra, Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research cum- Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research & Extension presented the priorities, performance and preparedness to face various challenges. Since 2014,based on the research at various centers of ICAR, new varieties of field crops (1434), Horticulture crops (462) and Climate resilient varieties (1121) have been developed. Molecular breeding techniques have been used to develop varieties which are tolerant to multiple stress. HD 3226 of wheat and ArkAbed of Tomato are resistant to seven diseases and four diseases respectively.
To meet the requirement for commercial processing verities with processing traits like ArkVises, ArkAlesha and ArkYoji have been developed.PM appreciated the efforts towards developing varieties focusing on specific requirements of agro-climatic zones and exhorted the need for developing forward and backward linkages to assure better returns to farmers.
Karan -4, a sugarcane variety has enhanced sugar recovery and has replaced traditionally grown varieties in Uttar Pradesh.PM highlighted that avenues for enhancing bio ethanol from sugarcane and other crops needs to explored.
In an effort to bolster ‘Kuposh Mukt Bharat’ (India free from Malnutrition) 70 bio fortified varities with enhanced Iron, Zinc and Protein content have been developed. Bhagwa, a variety of Pomegranate is rich in Iron, Potassium, Vitamin C and Anti-oxidants.
Poshan Thali and Nutria-gardens are being promoted through Krishi Vigyan Kendras. Pilots were conducted in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh involving 76 Krishi Vigyan Kendras and 450 model farms. Anganwadi Workers and women from rural areas are being trained in raisingnutria-gardens to ensure balanced diet. Poshan Thali comprises of rice, local dal, seasonal fruit, leafy green vegetable, tubers, other vegetables, milk and other components like sugar, jiggery and oils. 100 Nutri Smart villages are to be created by 2022.
PM highlighted the need to adopt organic and natural farming practices on a cluster based approach. ICAR has developed geo-referenced Organic Carbon Map of India , identified 88 bio control agents and 22 Bio pesticides which can promote organic agriculture.
PM directed that start-ups and agri-enterprenues need to be promoted to ensure innovation and use of technology in Agriculture and allied sectors. He highlighted the need to leverage information technology to provide information on demand to the farmers.
He directed that Hackathons may be organized twice a year to solve identified problems and meet design needs for tools and equipement that can reduce drudgery if farming activity, given that a large number of farm workers are women.
He exhorted the need to create awareness regarding inclusion of millets like Jowar, bajra, ragi and several other minor millets in diet to ensure healthy diet.
Climate change stress like heat waves, droughts, cold waves, submergence due to heavy rains cause huge losses and are threat to agricultural livelihoods. Integrated farming systems have been developed to buffer farmers from such climate stress induced losses. Traditional varieties cultivated by farmers over generations are being screened for stress tolerance and other favorable traits.
In order to enhance water use efficiency, PM desired that awareness and outreach programs be conducted.
While reviewing the contributions of ICAR in developing new breeds of cattle, sheep and goats, Prime Minister highlighted the need for research on indigenousbreeds of dogs and horses.He directed that a focused mission mode approach be adopted for vaccination drives for Foot and Mouth disease.
PM exhorted that study of grasses and local fodder crops should be undertaken to understand their nutritive value. He highlighted the need to study use of sea weeds for their impact on soil health apart from exploring commercial applications in nutraceuticals.
ICAR introduced Magic seeder in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi to address the problem of stubble burning after the harvest of paddy crop. There is a reduction of 52% in burning events in 2019 in comparison to 2016.
PM directedthat ease of access to farm equipment and transport facility from field to markets shall be ensured. In this regard, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperatives and Farmers Welfare launched an app – Kisanrath.
PM highlighted the need to orient Agricultural Education and research systems based on agro climatic requirements to meet the demands of the Farmers. The systems are to be geared towards enhancing farmer’s incomes while meeting International standards.
PM exhorted that traditional knowledge of Indian communities should be coupled with technology and skill sets of youth and Agriculture graduates to translate the full potential of Indian Agriculture in transforming rural areas.