Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

ICAR- Spearheading Tricolor Revolution in Agriculture

{ Dr. S. Ayyappan* } This year 29th July was the momentous day for the Indian Council of Agricultural Research as Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed the agricultural scientists on the occasion of 86th Foundation Day and ICAR Award Ceremony. In his inspiring, motivating and suggestive address, Prime Minister called upon agricultural scientists to work for making farming community more empowered and prosperous through new science and technology interventions. He reiterated that we must make adequate improvements in technology options in sync with fast changing climate scenario in different agro climatic zones. Emphasizing on the need for conservation and efficient use of water resources, he said ‘More Crop, Per Drop’ should be our mantra. Prime Minister was apprised of some of the key initiatives of ICAR primarily in the areas of climate resilience, natural resource management, input use efficiency, secondary agriculture and economic transformation of farming community through innovations and interventions. The wide network of ICAR is functioning and synchronizing its array of activities to realize its mission, ‘harness power of science and education with a human touch for higher and sustainable agricultural production’. Indian agriculture being a monsoon dependent activity, late onset and deficient monsoon posed a serious challenge to farmers vis-à-vis food production of the country. Over 520 district level Contingency Plans under National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) developed and demonstrated at locations. Interface meetings were organized with state officials and other stakeholders for smooth implementation and mobilization of various inputs to the farmers. Facilitations were provided to ensure timely delivery of seeds to farmers of the short duration varieties of crops and contingent/alternate crops. Various measures of water harvesting at farms and efficient use of water were demonstrated to farmers along with organization of awareness camps to mitigate the climate adversity. Council has also prepared the climatic vulnerability atlas of the country to help develop a road map for sustained mitigation interventions. More thrust in being given to develop drought resistant, flood/water logging tolerant, salt tolerant, short duration varieties and multiple disease resistant varieties of major crops. Technology led and knowledge driven innovations and interventions are spearheading the country towards tricolor revolution having significant increase in overall food production. This year, a record 263 million tonnes production of food grains and 269 million tonnes in horticultural produce ensured sustainable food and nutritional security for the countrymen. National level technology demonstration on pulse production in 6,000 villages along with use of improved varieties resulted in all time high production of 19.5 million tonnes. Continuous efforts to raise productivity of pulses from 750 to 1,000 kg per hectare are being made with horizontal expansion in area up to three million hectare by 2020. In oil seeds new varieties are being developed having high oil content and production potential. Oil palm has been recognized as an alternative and effective oil crop having potential oil yield of 3-4 tonnes per hectare. Tissue culture protocols for mass multiplication of oil palm have been developed to quickly raise its area. In commercial crops, India emerged as second largest producer of cotton with production of 35.3 million bales during the year. New production, management and crop protection technologies, especially developed for Bt cotton, helped expansion of its area up to 90% of the cotton belt. In sugarcane, production reached to approximately 361 million tonnes with productivity peaking at 70 tonnes per hectare. Recent advances in livestock production and management practices led to record production of 136 million tonnes of milk, which is highest in the world, as against nearly 128 million tonnes during 2012-13. In poultry, an impressive 70 billion eggs were produced gaining from scientific practices. Gramapriya and Vanaraja breeds of chicken have become most sought after breeds for backyard poultry due to their high performance under rural conditions. Improved breeds of quail, duck, turkey and guinea fowl were introduced and popularized to enhance the poultry basket of the country. This year, fish production reached to 9.45 million tonnes banking upon diversified fish farming system. Popular fish Rohu was improved through selection for better productivity gains. Dissemination of user friendly technologies at ground level is undertaken by a wide network of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) having direct interface with farmers. With the establishment of new KVKs during the year, now the number stands at 639 making it the largest network of technology assessment, refinement and transfer. As part of regional cooperation, the ICAR also organized ASEAN-India Farmers’ Exchange programme and also facilitated the study visit of Nigerian delegation that came to familiarize with Indian agricultural research and extension system in general and KVKs in particular. Under the Tribal Sub Plan, ICAR closely worked with tribal farmers to enhance their livelihood security in different parts of the country. Council also demonstrated technology-led agriculture innovation systems for improving livelihood security in 91 backward districts of the country to about 1.43 lakh poor farming families. Intensive efforts resulted in adoption of sea cage farming by families of Sidi African tribes, living on Veravel coast, Gujarat as a highly profitable vocation. Integrated farm interventions in Bali island of Sunderbans, West Bengal enhanced livelihood of the tribal residents. Location-specific integrated farming systems were designed for small and marginal farm households in different states with farmers’ participation. Among some milestone achievements, contribution of the ICAR scientists in decoding of wheat genome is the most promising and latest one. As a part of the international consortium, Chromosome ‘2A’ was decoded helping identification of 1, 25,000 genes. The research got prominent coverage in the top international research journal ‘Science’ (18th July, 2014). Under the ambitious programme of cloning of Murrah Buffaloes, a male calf named ‘Rajat’ was produced through the Hand-guided Cloning Technique. The new born calf is a clone of Proven Buffalo Bull (MU-4393) whose frozen semen was available in the institutional semen bank. The donor cell was taken from the frozen semen of this bull. Female cloned calves named ‘Lalima’ and ‘Purnima’ were produced by taking the donor cell from the ear of elite buffaloes. To facilitate the advancement of genomics in the country, ‘ASHOKA’ (Advanced Supercomputing Hub for OMICS Knowledge in Agriculture) was dedicated to the nation which is a state-of–art facility, first of its kind devoted exclusively for Indian agricultural research. The supercomputing hub is poised to bridge the gap between genomic information and knowledge by utilizing statistical and computational sciences. A step forward has been taken for securing India’s crop genetic diversity by joining the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV). India deposited 25 accessions of pigeon pea as ‘safety duplicates’ in the global gene bank on 9 April, 2014. The global gene bank is jointly maintained and managed by the Norway’s Department of Agriculture and the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) under the international Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). Indian Council of Agricultural Research has geared up to face social-economic challenges before agriculture as a profession. Business partnership has been developed with companies for commercialization of technologies through AgrInnovate India Limited which is a registered company owned by DARE/ICAR. Seeds, farm implements & machinery, diagnostics & vaccines and value added products are the major areas identified for business enterprises. All out efforts are being made to raise profitability of agriculture for making it a really attractive occupation, especially for youth.
Dr. S. Ayyappan*Dr. S. Ayyappan
Secretary of Department of Agricultural Research and Education and Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research Ministry of Agriculture.



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