Hyderabad, May 14 (PTI) Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday called for enhancing the quality and capacity of agricultural research in the country to achieve substantial gains in agri-productivity in the long term.
Observing that Indian agriculture is going through a great transition now, he said reducing availability of quality water, nutrient deficiency in soils, climate change, emergence of new pests and diseases, fragmentation of farms and market uncertainties are some of the changes that will make the task of agricultural research even more critical in the coming years.
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"These changes impacting agriculture call for a paradigm shift in our research approach. We have to harness the potential of modern science, encourage innovations in technology, and provide for enabling policies to support investments. We must also start investing seriously in critical areas such as genomics, molecular breeding, and nanotechnology, among other areas," Naidu said.
The institutions of agricultural research in the country must redouble their efforts and aim for excellence in technological innovation, human resources, and extension services to meet these challenges, he said.
"Of these, the importance of creating a skilled manpower in secondary and tertiary agriculture to make it profitable cannot be overstated. In turn, trained agri-business graduates can work towards making agriculture more into an organised sector and become job providers instead of job-seekers," he said.
He was speaking at the Graduation ceremony of the Agri-Business Management programme of ICAR – National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) here.
Noting that no advanced country can improve agri productivity without extension activities, Naidu suggested increasing the R&D expenditure – which is 'less than one per cent of our agricultural GDP.'
"Going forward, we have to further equip and enhance the capacity of agricultural research in the country to achieve substantial gains in agri-productivity. To begin with, we need to increase our R&D expenditure on agriculture – standing at less than one percent of our agricultural GDP, which is less than what other developed and developing countries spend," he said.
Further, he called for 'every effort by agricultural researchers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and scientists to make agriculture climate-resilient, profitable and sustainable for farmers and to ensure nutritional security.'
He emphasised that agricultural universities must consider it their bounden duty to not only develop new techniques and methods of sustainable production, but also to take these developments to the last farmer in every part of the country.
He called upon agricultural universities to encourage students to visit villages and know the actual farm issues firsthand. "We must imbibe the slogan 'Lab to Land' of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring research benefits to farmers to enhance production and incomes," he said.
Elaborating on this, Naidu suggested that extension inputs to farmers should be broken down into 'simple language, without resorting to too much technical jargon'. He also suggested exploring mobile-based extension services and to offer ‘one-stop solutions for all services, on demand, and without any clutter'.
The Vice President observed that there is a pressing need to encourage farmers to take up allied activities to diversify the risk of crop failure. He also suggested adoption of agro-climatically suitable crops such as millets and horticultural crops.
On the occasion, he paid rich tributes to Indian farmers and said that "no matter what came their way, be it floods, droughts or even a pandemic, our farmers have always stood tall in the face of adversities." He observed that despite several challenges, the Indian agriculture sector "never fails to surprise with its resilience".
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