During the last three years tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties through KVKs for registration at Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority (PPVFRA) and this will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, Radha Mohan Singh, Union Agriculture Minister said today.
Opening a “National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas” in New Delhi, he said, “New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas.”
Delegates attending the Workshop emphasised that new varieties of coarse grains, pulses, oilseeds, fruits, flowers, vegetables need to be propagated in these areas besides the introduction of integrated farming, new techniques of rain-fed agriculture, appropriate technologies for water conservation along with new techniques for irrigation, agriculture equipment and line sowing. Special attention shall be given to area-specific integrated farming modules.
It is widely admitted that the landholdings of tribal farmers are small therefore the proposed techniques should be suitable for these small farm holdings, only then the development modules will become realistic.
According to the Agriculture Ministry, out of 673 KVKs, 125 are in working in tribal majority areas. Besides the establishment charges, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is approving Rs.75 to Rs.100 crore for special projects for effective extension in tribal areas.
ICAR has taken several steps to strengthen the social condition of tribal areas. Two new Indian Agricultural Research Institutes being established in Assam and Jharkhand states. Similarly, 6 colleges were established in Northeastern India. Ten new Krishi Vigyan Kendras were also opened in these areas. All the institutes of ICAR are allotted certain budget for working in the areas of crop production, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries etc tribal areas.
Experts were of the view that the tribal have unique knowledge of climate suitable varieties. Living in the same area for ages, roaming around the forests and living in close contact with nature have provided them knowledge of flora and fauna of that area which even experts envy. Their knowledge of natural resources needs to be utilised.
It is a well known fact that the tribal area is highly fertile. Away from the chemical inputs, therefore these areas are suitable for organic agriculture and sustainable farming. Tribal agriculture products are of high quality with unique characteristics. According to the experts, the need of the hour is that productivity of such agriculture produces be increased.
The special crops grown in these areas are niger, til, coarse grains, kodo, kakun, kutri, ragi, which are not only of high medicinal value but of nutritional value as well. Pulses and oilseeds are also grown in these areas.
It was also suggested that the curriculum for tribal students should be framed in such a manner that the degree and diploma are based on their life-trait skills. Their skills should be honed in a manner that better products like textile, jewellery, metal craft, bamboo products, utensil among others come into the market paving the way for more money flow in these areas.