New Delhi, India: The year 2010-11 witnessed record food grain production touching 242 million tonnes in farm season (July-June) according to the 4th advance estimates released recently. Dr. S. Ayyappan, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education, and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, further explained Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s (ICAR) initiatives and its strategic framework to improve food security in the country.
Ayyappan observed that the bygone year threw many challenges also. These include perceptible climate change, as seen by the dry spells in the Eastern India; degrading land and water environment; need for quality inputs; emerging problem of agricultural labour; and post-harvest losses across the commodities. To address the problem of decreasing soil and water productivity, the GIS-based soil fertility maps, using soil-test data was prepared for 500 districts spread over 21 states of India. The data revealed that soils of most of the districts have low to medium amount of nitrogen and phosphorus and medium to high amount of potassium. Existing ridge-and-furrow system of irrigation was modified for in-situ rain water harvesting (10 percent than the earlier 1 percent of rain), which increased castor yield by 30 percent. A decision support system was developed for facilitating location specific nutrient management.
About the framework, Ayyappan explained that it aims to improve food security, enhance opportunities for inclusive growth, augment competitiveness of Indian agriculture and create adequate and quality human resources to address the concerns. Some of the major concerns include, natural resources degradation, increasing biotic and abiotic pressures, declining input use efficiency, post-harvest losses, decreasing profitability in farming, quality human resource and farm extension.
Among new projects, Ayyappan counted the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture as noteworthy. The Project has a budget outlay of INR 350 crore for XI Plan; out of which INR 200 crore is allocated for 2010-11, and INR 150 crore for 2011-12 on the research infrastructure, capacity-building and on-farm demonstrations of available climate-resilient technologies.
To improve the quality and productivity of livestock population, artificial insemination is being standardised and adopted in field situations. With repositioning of its approach towards entrepreneurship and livelihood security, the ICAR has made a strong commitment for socio-economic transformation of the Indian rural population. The research programmes, educational initiatives and extension activities have been reoriented to meet the objective. Efforts are being made to ensure free flow of knowledge, crossing all barriers on the way. The ICAR has adopted open-access policy for its highly-rated research journals and other literature of importance.