New Delhi (ABC Live):Agriculture and FPI Minister, Shri Sharad Pawar, today lauded the contribution of agricultural scientists in the success of the recently launched programmes for fast growth in foodgrain production. Talking of the rise in foodgrain production achieved by the National Food Security Mission, the BGREI and Accelerated Pulse Production Programme, the Minister said, “I feel an important factor contributing to the success of these programmes is the active involvement of scientists and the officials of development agencies, right at the level of farmer’s field.”
Shri Pawar was addressing scientists and policy makers at the 85th Annual General Meeting of the ICAR Society.
Elaborating further, Shri Pawar said, “The efforts of scientists in developing high yielding, input efficient, disease tolerant varieties/hybrids alongwith their widespread adoption by the farmers are visible in increasing the farm productivity, quality and quantity. In the last ten years, our foodgrain production increased from 198 million tonnes in 2004-05 to 259 million tonnes by 2011-12, at an average of about 6 million tonnes per annum. The two major staple cereals of the country, wheat and rice, registered an increase of nearly 50 million tonnes during this period. Overall it is important to note that the foodgrain production has continuously increased despite a virtual ceiling on cultivable area of 140±2 million hectares. Today, India is among leading rice exporters in the world. A single rice variety, Pusa Basmati 1121 has earned over Rs 18,000 crores through export last year. The active participation of ICAR in the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) enabled us to screen rust resistant wheat germplasm and develop high productivity wheat variety HD 2967 with resistance to yellow rust, leaf and black rust including Ug99. India’s export of agricultural and allied products has increased from Rs. 1,78,800 crore in 2011-12 to Rs. 2,01,000 crore in 2012-13, registering a growth of nearly 11%.”
The Minister informed that in 2013, the ICAR released 104 new improved varieties/hybrids of different field and horticultural crops with potential for higher yields. These varieties also have enhanced tolerance/resistance to various forms of stress for cultivation in diverse agro-ecological regions of the country. India is amongst the leading exporters of Basmati rice and landmark varieties such as Pusa Punjab Basmati 1509 with moderate resistance to leaf blast and brown spot diseases and HD 3059, wheat variety resistant to all three rusts, including stem rust race Ug99 and its variants are helping the farmers for enhanced production.
The Council produced over 11,835 tonnes of breeder seeds of major food crops.
For the first time in India, a variety ‘Swarna Vaidehi‘ of makhana has been developed and released by ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region, Patna. This variety has a production potential of 2.8–3.0 t/ha in farmers’ field, almost two fold higher than the productivity of traditional cultivars.
On the new major research initiatives taken by ICAR with a novel approach, ie. the National Fund for Basic, Strategic and Frontier Application Research in Agriculture (NFBSFARA) and National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP), the Minister informed that he NFBSFARA awarded 25 new projects in the last year with a total budget of Rs 50 crore on subjects ranging from climate change to use of nanotechnology for agriculture and RNAi gene silencing technology. The NAIP research and development activities resulted in filing of 72 patent/intellectual property protection applications; commercialization of 82 technologies/products and piloting 51 new rural industries. A first of its kind, Agri-Tech Investors Meet was organized in that brought inventors into direct contact with industry and investors. The investors meet was able to successfully commercialize 58 technologies and earning resources for the Council.
Among other initiatives and achievements of the agricultural research and education system in India, the Minister highlighted the National Initiative for Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA). ICAR has developed the crop contingency plans for more than 450 districts in the country which were effectively used during 2009 and 2012 droughts moderating the impacts as compared to droughts that struck the country earlier. In the year 2013, states of Uttarakhand, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh were struck by natural calamities of differential, but severe intensities. The ICAR prepared doable and location-specific action plans of agriculture and allied sectors for rehabilitation and restoration of the affected areas through technological backstopping.
Among the major achievements in animal research, the Minister mentioned of development of a crossbred pig and a dual purpose rural poultry variety, Srinidhi. Scientists produced world’s first mithun calf by embryo transfer, test tube yak calf ‘Norgyal’, calf from cloned buffalo mother, etc. Sea cage farming with seabass and cobia added a new dimension in fisheries towards enhanced utilization of coastal production potentials.
On a need basis, five new KVKs, two in Jammu & Kashmir, and one each in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Arunachal Pradesh, have been approved, thus raising their number to 637 in the country.
To promote agricultural education in deprived areas, ICAR has moved a bill for establishing a Central Agricultural University in Bundelkhand region.
The Department of Agricultural Research and Education (ICAR) became one of the first departments in the Government of India to obtain IS/ISO 9001:2008 certification by implementing Quality Management System, the Minister informed.
The AGM was also addressed by Ministers of State, Shri Tariq Anwar and Dr Charan Das Mahant, and Dr S. Ayyappan, DG, ICAR.