New Delhi, Jul 4 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reviewed the progress of agriculture research, extension, and education in India and pitched for promoting start-ups and agri-entrepreneurs to ensure innovation and use of technology in farming and allied sectors.

He underlined the need for developing forward and backward linkages to assure better returns to farmers, an official statement said.

Taking to Twitter later, the prime minister said, “India is placing great importance on education in the agricultural sector that benefits the farmers.”

India is proud of its traditional agro knowledge and will complement it with the latest technology to ensure a boost to the income of farmers, he said.

At the review, Modi highlighted the need to adopt organic and natural farming practices on a cluster-based approach.

The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed a geo-referenced Organic Carbon Map of India, and identified 88 biocontrol agents and 22 Biopesticides that can promote organic agriculture, the statement said.

The prime minister also directed that start-ups and agri-entrepreneurs need to be promoted to ensure innovation and use of technology in agriculture and allied sectors. He highlighted the need to leverage information technology to provide information on demand to the farmers. 

He suggested that hackathons may be organized twice a year to solve identified problems and meet design needs for tools and equipment that can reduce drudgery in farming activity, given that a large number of farm workers are women.

He exhorted the need to create awareness regarding the inclusion of millets like jowar, bajra, ragi, and several other minor millets in diet to ensure a healthy diet.

To enhance water use efficiency, the prime minister desired that awareness and outreach programs be conducted.

While reviewing the contributions of ICAR in developing new breeds of cattle, sheep, and goats, the prime minister highlighted the need for research on indigenous breeds of dogs and horses. He directed that a focused mission mode approach be adopted for vaccination drives for Foot and Mouth disease.

In the virtual meet, he exhorted that the study of grasses and local fodder crops should be undertaken to understand their nutritive value.

He underlined the need to study the use of seaweeds for their impact on soil health apart from exploring commercial applications in nutraceuticals.

Modi directed that ease of access to farm equipment and transport facility from field to markets should be ensured. In this regard, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperatives, and Farmers Welfare launched an app Kisanrath. He said there was a need to orient agricultural education and research systems based on agroclimatic requirements to meet the demands of the farmers.

The systems are to be geared towards enhancing farmer’s incomes while meeting international standards.

The prime minister exhorted that traditional knowledge of Indian communities should be coupled with technology and skill sets of youth and agriculture graduates to translate the full potential of Indian agriculture in transforming rural areas.

Trilochan Mohapatra, Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research cum- Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Extension presented the priorities, performance, and preparedness to face various challenges. Since 2014, based on the research at various centers of ICAR, 1434 varieties of field crops, 462 horticulture crops, and 1121 climate-resilient varieties have been developed.

Molecular breeding techniques have been used to develop varieties that are tolerant to multiple stresses. HD 3226 of wheat and ArkAbed of tomato are resistant to seven diseases and four diseases respectively, the statement pointed out.

It said Karan-4, a sugarcane variety has enhanced sugar recovery and has replaced traditionally grown varieties in Uttar Pradesh.

Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, both the ministers for State for Agriculture joined the review meeting.

In addition to the senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office,  secretaries from the Departments of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Dairy and Fisheries were present, the statement said. PTI NAB ZMN


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