Millennium Post

Broadening the horizons

As much as agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy, education is the means to keep this backbone healthy. Efforts and initiatives in this direction serve the duel purpose of encouraging an advanced system of result-oriented practices that leads to enhanced agricultural productivity and a more favourable state of the economy in general. Scientists coming together in a district in Odisha to give farmers a new future is an undertaking in this direction. Being one of India's poorest districts, it now has a team of scientists from leading Central government institutes set to usher in an economic revolution through scientific inputs in agriculture. In the project titled 'Farm-Based S&T Interventions for Socioeconomic Development' that is jointly implemented by 12 Central R&D institutes and an 18-member district-level committee of the state government. With a budget of over Rs 6.5 crore over two years, the farmers are chosen through rigorous field visits across the district to select those who could take the risk of switching from traditional crops to high-value crops and were willing to accept new methods. The progress and poverty of farmers in conjunction with the output and the over all economic impact this creates is a subject of much wider concern. The intricately intertwined aspects of growing food, its commerce and the support of enhanced production with advanced methods that come with educational intervention in this direction, in combination, go a long way in making the health of the economy better and more sustainable. Improving farming in terms of techniques ought to be coupled with a market for diverse range of produce. With space for such diversity, numerous aspects of consumption could be addressed—in terms of nutrition, market for different varieties of commonly consumed produce, and more importantly, the return of the culture of consuming local and seasonal food. Going beyond food, this is also a means to uplift the livelihood of farmers and make their job a more vibrant undertaking.

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