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‘We formulate policies keeping in view interests of farmers’

‘We formulate policies keeping in view interests of farmers’
What are the main areas of operation and functions in the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)?
We are educating younger people about farming, animal husbandry and horticultural crops. The agricultural department disseminated their flagship products such as research and popular handbooks, monographs, technical textbooks, popular books, among others. Also we plan to undertake, promote and co-ordinate education research and its application in areas such as agriculture, agro-forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries, home science and allied sciences. Besides, we act as cleaning house of research and general information related to agriculture, animal husbandry, home sciences and fisheries through our publications and information systems. In addition, we institute and promote transfer of technology programmes. We also do other things considered necessary to attain social objectives. In addition, we look into problems related to border areas, such as rural development and issues concerning agriculture, including post harvest technology, by developing co-operative programmes with other organisations such as Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and universities.
 
What are the challenges faced by the agricultural industry?
While we have attained self-sufficiency in the agricultural sector, challenge is to be at par with the urban sector of India. They pose great and immensely stiff competition. However, it’s all very healthy and I have no issues with that. But climatic changes and sudden downpours are extremely risky and dangerous, as they damage crops. So we need to develop a mechanism or instrument to predict climate changes. Our agricultural sector is quite self-reliant, so challenges don’t stop us from achieving what we have aimed for. Our output includes 263 million of horticultural types, 130 tonnes of milk, 9 million fish and 65 million units of eggs. These figures clearly show how self-reliant we have become despite substantial hurdles.
 
What have been ICAR’s new achievements under your leadership?
We have made significant strides in crop sciences, horticulture department, natural resource management department, animal sciences, agricultural engineering and technology, fisheries and agricultural education. We have introduced and improved new crops such as soyabean and sunflower. India is now the fifth largest producer of soyabean in the world. Similarly, in horticulture, we have developed technology for seed multiplication in potato through deed plot technique and micro and mini tubers. Likewise, in natural resources management, we have introduced an integrated crop management approach including the system of rice intensification (SRI) for reducing water and labour inputs and increasing rice grain yield. In animal sciences, five breeds of indigenous livestock and poultry were conserved and characterised both phenotypically and using molecular markers. Further, in agricultural engineering and technology, we have developed structures, environmental control techniques and packages of production practices for raising nurseries and improving production of flowers, medicinal plants and off season vegetables. Lastly, in fisheries, we have developed genetically improved rohu, CIFA IR-I with enhanced growth.

What new initiatives have you taken to improve overall development in agricultural sector?
We have developed agricultural education where financial and professional support is given to agricultural universities for modernising and strengthening of academic facilities, infrastructure and faculty improvement. We have established an accreditation board for quality assurance in agricultural education and several agricultural universities are now accredited. Also, we have awarded about 1,000 National Talent Scholarships to undergraduate studies, around 475 Junior Research Fellowship Programmes for postgraduate studies and 200 senior research fellowships for PhD – all annually. We have taken steps to promote excellence at national level though ICAR National Professor and National Fellow schemes.

What is your message to farmers and all those related to agricultural industry?

Well I would ask them to have faith in the government’s schemes, policies and plans and continue to work hard. We always formulate policies keeping in view the interests of farmers. It is just a matter of time when our country would import maximum number of products, thereby enhancing the growth of our economy in return.
Neha Thakur

Neha Thakur

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