Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has asked for doubling of farm research budget in the next fiscal from the current Rs 800 crore as it wants to develop high-yielding varieties that can cope with the challenges of climate change and boost farmers income.
To ensure food and nutrition security of the country amid rising population, the ICAR has chalked out a plan to develop high yielding varieties of many crops including rice and wheat that are enriched with multiple-nutritional elements.
Not only crops, ICAR has made plans to develop varieties of fruits and vegetables that can be easily processed by the industry and reduce wastage. It also wants to use cloning technology to increase milk production.
“To do all these, I require doubling of my research and development grant. At present, it is Rs 800 crore,” ICAR Director General Trilochan Mohapatra told PTI in an interview.
Stating that overall the country has done considerably well in rice and wheat, he said, “But we cannot continue with the current level of yields. The issue is we have to double the income of farmers. The average yield is very low.”
Mohapatra cited the example Punjab farmers who have achieved productivity of 8 tonnes per hectare in rice and 6-7 tonnes per hectare in wheat, but said this level of yields have not been replicated in other parts of the country.
“This gap needs to be bridged with all kind of support.
The potential yield in rice and wheat need to be enhanced. In India, I want to take it to more than 10 tonnes per hectare in rice and over 8 tonnes per hectare in wheat.”
For next year, the ICAR Director General said that he has set a tough target for the institute in research area to achieve this objective.
Expressing concern over rising temperature during winter and consequent impact on wheat crop, he said. “For wheat, I want to use genomics-assisted breeding. Alternatively, genetically modified (GM) approach can also be targeted.”
Besides wheat and rice, ICAR wants to increase pulses yield to more than 2 tonnes per hectare through use of modern farm technology in order make the country self-sufficient.
ICAR also wants to develop rice varieties with multiple nutrients like zinc and protein to address the challenge of malnutrition.
Although India is one of the largest producers in many crops like wheat, rice and pulses, but their yields per hectare is well below the global average.