Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday called for “every effort by the agricultural researchers, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and scientists to make agriculture climate-resilient, profitable and sustainable for farmers and to ensure nutritional security”.
He also called for enhancing the quality and capacity of agricultural research in the country to achieve substantial gains in agri-productivity in the long term. The Vice President was attending the Graduation ceremony of the Agri-Business Management programme of ICAR – National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) in Hyderabad yesterday. He also presented a few select students with Gold medals and Director’s medals.
Noting that no advanced country can improve agri-productivity without extension activities, Naidu suggested increasing the Research and Development expenditure – which is ‘less than one percent of our agricultural GDP’, he said.
Speaking on the occasion, the Vice President emphasised that agricultural universities must consider it their bounden duty to not only develop new techniques and methods of sustainable production but also to take these developments to the last farmer in every part of the country.
He called upon agricultural universities to encourage students to visit villages and know the actual farm issues firsthand. “We must imbibe the slogan ‘Lab to Land’ of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to bring research benefits to farmers to enhance production and incomes,” he said.
He suggested that extension inputs to farmers should be broken down into ‘simple language, without resorting to too much technical jargon’ and exploring mobile-based extension services and offering ‘one-stop solutions for all services, on-demand, and without any clutter’.
The Vice President touched upon various emerging challenges of Indian agriculture such as reducing the availability of water, climate change, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, new pests and diseases, and fragmentation of farms, among other issues, adding that this makes “the task of agricultural research even more critical in the coming years”.
To tackle these challenges, Naidu called for a “paradigm shift in our research approach” and aim for excellence in technological innovation, human resources, and extension services.
He said that ICAR institutions should bring out synergies between agriculture and modern technologies such as drones and Artificial Intelligence and develop scalable products.
Further, he particularly stressed the importance of creating skilled manpower in secondary and tertiary agriculture to make it profitable and said that the trained agri-business graduates can work towards making agriculture more into an organised sector and become job providers instead of job seekers.