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PM Modi reviews progress of Indian Council of Agricultural Research

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the progress of agriculture research, extension and education in India through videoconference on July 4. PM Modi reviewed progress of agriculture research, calls for leveraging IT, promoting start-ups.

Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development & Panchayat Raj, and 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.

On this occasion, the Prime Minister said that to enable farmers to get a good price for their produce, a system should be developed for better marketing of the products along with increasing their production. On this occasion, the Prime Minister described the effort to prepare species keeping in mind the climate of every region.

Moreover, to “solve identified problems and design needs for tools and equipment that can reduce drudgery”, Modi asked ICAR to organize biannual hackathons, according to a statement by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). PM also said that ease of access for farmers to farm equipment and transport facility from field to markets has to be ensured. The Department of Agriculture, Cooperatives and Farmers Welfare had launched an app called Kisanrath in April this year for facilitating transportation of Agri produce by connecting farmers and traders with transporters.The Prime Minister stressed that the traditional knowledge of Indian farmers should benefit from the technology and skills of the youth.

The Prime Minister talked about promoting organic and natural farming by creating a cluster. On this occasion, ICAR said that they have developed the Organic Carbon Map of India, identified 88 bio-control components and 22 bio-fertilizers, which will help in increasing organic farming.

DrTrilochanMohapatra, Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Secretary in the Department of Agricultural Research and Extension told that from 2014, based on the research at various centres 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 stresses. HD 3226 of wheat and ArkAbed of Tomato are resistant to seven diseases and four diseases respectively.

To meet the requirement for commercial processing, varieties 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 bioethanol from sugarcane and other crops needto explore.

To bolster ‘KuposhMukt Bharat’ (India free from Malnutrition) 70 biofortifiedvarieties 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 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 other components like sugar, jaggery and oils. 100 Nutri Smart villages are to be created by 2022.

PM 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.

He directed that Hackathons may be organized twice a year to solve identified problems and meet design needs for tools and equipment that can reduce drudgery if the farming activity, given that a large number of farmworkers are women.He exhorted the need to create awareness regarding the inclusion of millets like Jowar, Bajra, Ragi and several other minor millets in the 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.

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 indigenous breeds 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 the use of seaweeds for their impact on soil health apart from exploring commercial applications in nutraceuticals. ICAR introduced happy 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 directed that 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.

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