Forum for Indian Journalists on Education, Environment, Health & Agriculture
A South Asian Initiative on Development Communication
Dr N C Patel

Vice Chancellor

Anand Agricultural University, Anand

Q.1. With a new Government in place, do you think we are likely to see a remarkable shift in Indian agriculture, much like what happened in Gujarat?

Certainly and 100 % sure. Agriculture is going to be established as leading profit making enetrprise, rather than being only an art or act for earning bread and butter. Such broader applications / replications of Gujarat model of agriculture are going to provide vital feedback for further upgradadtion of Gujarat agriculture above the already achieved higher level.

Q.3 What are the three critical challenges, according to you, which the Indian agriculture face today?

Uncertainty of rainfall and climate change scenario; Rising input cost and small land holdings; Lack of knowledge of scientific agriculture with farmers.

Q.4 Farmers are increasingly turning away from farming as agriculture becomes less rewarding than in past with increasing inputs and labour costs. What would you recommend to ensure this doesn’t escalate to alarming levels?

Farmers should get satisfactory price of their products. Almost 1.5 times compared to prevailing price of most of the commodities such as wheat, groundnut, cotton, rice, castor, sugar cane to get reasonable income in farming. No industry will sell any article at the cost less than production cost. Farmers have to do it many times. Easy availability of low cost mechanized systems for various agricultural operations to overcome labour problems. Availability of services of agricultural expert on farm. The technical guidance provided by Kishan Call Centers is not adequate.  Selection of seeds, irrigation and plant protection measures are key to improve productivity. Extensive farmers trainings are required. There is uncertainty of crop production in many years either due to lack of rain, excessive rain, climate problems, plant diseases etc. It is necessary to give compensation and technical help in such situations.

Q.5 What is your opinion on genetically modified crops? The debate seems headed nowhere. Can you anticipate where and how it would end?

Genetically modified crop approach needs to be kept controlled and confined based upon its real merits and ethical suitability to our high valued rural and agricultural sector in different regions. It is necessary to follow the international standards set by WHO and accordingly frame out the policy for the non-controversial genetically modified crops which are widely grown elsewhere with sufficient data of testing on human and animal health. Clear cut guidelines of GOI will stop all such debate by allowing indigenously developed GM crops with extreme care and tested for its effect on human and animal health. Farmers, NGOs and consumers  should be educated through various programmes to be organized by scientific organizations so that the public (including farmers) accept scientific facts instead of going by some kind of  belief.                

Q.6 PM has exhorted scientists to ensure innovations and results of R&D reach the land – from lab to land. How much is your university geared towards achieving this in order to ensure farmers benefit out of the enormous efforts that students and scientists put in?

It is very necessary to adopt result of R & D on large scale farm level. Our university has made contribution in seed production, tissue culture, development of new varieties, horticulture, recommendations on plant protection measures, animal health care, probiotics, etc.  I feel transfer of technology is fully geared up at the University level for the benefit of the farmers and other stake holders. Therefore, PG and research projects are being designed to evaluate the performance of new technology transfer at commercial scale.
Q.7 What are some of the new areas that your university is currently working on? 

We are working on the following: Tissue culture; Development of new varieties; Weed control measures; Soil health card for micro nutrients; Post-harvest handling of agricultural produce; Bio-technology in agriculture, animal science and food science; Organic farming; Bio fertilizers; Pesticide residue in food products; Development and characterization of various types of cultures for preparation of fermented milk products, probiotic dairy products; Mechanization of indigenous dairy products; Clean air system for packaging of dairy/food products.

Q.8.Has your university conducted any landmark research or studies or applied an innovative solution which you may want to share and tell how others can learn from it?

The technology developed for liquid bio-fertiliser has been so widely popularized among farmers that most of the farmers are aware of use and beneifits of this technology. The Times of India Impact Award was won for popularization of this technology. The e-Krishikiran programme which consists of Soil Health Card programme developed by AAU, Anand has also been found most useful and helped farmers to cut down cost of chemical fertilizers by following balanced fertilizers recommendation and sustain soil health.




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