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New Delhi, July 5, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the progress of agriculture research, extension and education in India through videoconference on Saturday.
ICAR Director General Trilochan Mohaptra, who is also Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research & Extension, presented the priorities, performance and preparedness of the organisation to face various challenges.
Since 2014, based on the research at various ICAR centres, 1,434 new varieties of field crops, 462 horticulture crops and 1121 climate-resilient varieties have been developed. Molecular breeding techniques have been used to develop varieties which are tolerant to multiple stress. The HD 3226 of wheat is resistant to seven diseases and ArkAbed of Tomato to four, an official press release said.
To meet the requirement for commercial processing verities with processing traits like ArkVises, ArkAlesha and ArkYoji have been developed. The Prime Minister appreciated the efforts towards developing varieties focusing on specific requirements of agro-climatic zones. He stressed the need for developing forward and backward linkages to ensure better returns for farmers.
Karan-4, a sugarcane variety, has enhanced sugar recovery and replaced the traditionally grown varieties in Uttar Pradesh. Modi suggested that avenues for enhancing bio-ethanol from sugarcane and other crops need to explored.
In an effort to bolster "Kuposh Mukt Bharat" (India free from Malnutrition) 70 bio-fortified varieties 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 (KVKs). Pilots were conducted in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh involving 76 KVKs and 450 model farms.
Anganwadi workers and women from rural areas are being trained in raising nutria-gardens to ensure a balanced diet. ‘Poshan Thali’ comprises of rice, local dal, seasonal fruit, leafy green vegetable, tubers, other vegetables, milk and components like sugar, jaggery and oils. As many as 100 Nutri Smart villages are to be created by 2022.
The Prime Minister stressed the need to adopt organic and natural farming practices on a cluster-based approach. The ICAR has developed geo-referenced Organic Carbon Map of India, identified 88 biocontrol agents and 22 Biopesticides which can promote organic agriculture.
Modi directed that start-ups and agri-entrepreneurs 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.
Hackathons could be organized twice a year to solve identified problems and meet design needs for tools and equipment that can reduce drudgery in the farming activity, given that a large number of farmworkers are women, he added.
The Prime Minister stressed the need to create awareness regarding the inclusion of millets like Jowar, bajra, ragi and several other minor millets in diet to ensure a healthy diet.
Climate change stresses like heat waves, droughts, cold waves, submergence due to heavy rains cause huge losses and are a 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 favourable traits, he said.
While reviewing the contributions of ICAR in developing new breeds of cattle, sheep and goats, Modi highlighted the need for research on indigenous breeds of dogs and horses. A focused mission-mode approach should be adopted for vaccination drives for Foot and Mouth disease.
He said a 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.
Modi said ease of access to farm equipment and transport facility from field to markets will be ensured. In this regard, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperatives and Farmers Welfare has launched an app – Kisanrath.
Modi stressed 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 their income while meeting International standards.