President Pranab Mukherjee today said that Agricultural Universities must become the focal points of agricultural growth and change. Agricultural institutions of learning must focus on growth and quality improvement.
Addressing the 29th Convocation of Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture & Technology at Pant Nagar in the President said that time is ripe for new measures for sustainable intensification of agriculture. “These include irrigation and continuous seed and breed improvement. Research needed to ascertain the dynamics of toxic elements in the soil-crop system and to develop appropriate mechanisms for bio-remediation for safe use of water,” he added.
Mukherjee said, “Steps to enhance water harvesting, water-use efficiency and conjunctive use of water are necessary. These would result in net increase in irrigation potential. Our policies must address water productivity in totality.”
The President emphasised that institutional tie-ups must be pursued to leverage expertise. Partnerships with other agricultural institutions must be taken up for joint research.
The President said that adoption of more sustainable land use systems and soil management practices has become essential. Agriculture must return to its roots by rediscovering the importance of healthy soil, drawing on natural sources of plant nutrition and using fertilizers judiciously and effectively. It also calls for greater investment in technology development and its on-farm adoption, deepening of markets and remunerative prices to farmers.
The President stated that in the Global Hunger Index 2015, which combines the three indicators of under-nourishment, child under-weight and child mortality, India is ranked 80th out of 104 countries. “This is totally unacceptable. We have to improve the nutritional status of our population in a time-bound manner,” he added.
Mukherjee said that Insects, pests and diseases significantly reduce the quality and quantum of agricultural produce. Weather-dependent insects, pests and diseases can be modeled and integrated in a sensor-based support system to provide vital, cost-effective and timely information to farmers for taking on-farm decisions.
He said that linkages with technical institutes must be established for improving agricultural practices using IT solutions. Collaborations with the agro-industrial sector must be forged for student internship, sensitization workshops, accessing facilities for business incubators, and networking for potential entrepreneurs.
The President expressed hope that agricultural universities would become the focal points of agricultural growth and change. “Equipped as you are with scientific knowledge and skills, I am sure that you would make significant contributions to eradicate hunger from our soil,” he added.