Governor J and K inaugurates 9th Agricultural Science Congress in Kashmir

June 22, 2009 Srinagar, J&K

His Excellency, the Governor, J&K and Chancellor, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir, Srinagar (SKUAST-K), Shri N. N. Vohra presented the NAAS awards and in his inaugural address appreciated the initiative taken by SKUAST-K and the NAAS for hosting the 9 th Agricultural Science Congress in Kashmir in the backdrop of the worst world food crisis in recent years which has also affected India, albeit to a limited extent.

He stressed upon the need for evolving time bound strategies to resolve the serious challenges faced by Indian agriculture, like stagnating yields, decreasing farm lands, poor growth in rural economy, growing indebtedness and suicides by farmers, unstable market processes, salinization, ground water pollution, nutrient imbalances, emergence of drug resistant strains of pests and degradation of the environment and desired that the congress may also look at the challenges and opportunities specific to the agricultural sector of J&K state, viz., introduction of biotechnology in agriculture, increase in productivity and production of saffron, addressing problems of fruit industry, improvement of post-harvest technology, cultivation of aromatic and medicinal plants, cut flower production, making sheep and poultry farming highly remunerative, cold water fisheries, generation of a cadre of adequately trained extension workers and strengthening of the primary feedback mechanism from the farmers.

Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology of Kashmir (SKUAST-K) in collaboration with National Academy of Agriculture Science (NAAS), New Delhi has organised 9th Agricultural Science Congress at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex (SKICC) on the bank of famous Dal Lake in the lap of Zaberwan hills from June 22-24, 2009. Theme of the Congress is "Technological and Institutional Innovations for Enhancing Agricultural Income". Eminent Agriculture scientists of the country, Vice Chancellors of Agriculture Universities and Directors of National Institutes are participating in the Congress. The congress was formally inaugurated on June 22, 2009. His Excellency, Govemor J&K(Chancellor, SKUAST-K) Shri N. N. Vohra who was also the chief guest and Hon'ble chief minister, J&K state (Pro-Chancellor SKUAST-K) Jenab Omar Abdullah was the guest of honour on the inaugural function. President NAAS, Secretary Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Government of India and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Dr. Mangala Rai presided over the session.

Chief minister, J&K state (Pro-Chancellor SKUAST-K) Jenab Omar Abdullah remarked that he was delighted as the University has taken initiatives towards self-employment and offering vocational trainings on nushroom culture, apiculture, floriculture, poultry production, processed food and feed products. The University has recently released a number of crop varieties, and successfully launched rice-wheat rotation. With these developments I would like to see self-sufficiency in food grains achieved in the State, he further added, the surplus maize to promote poultry industry is needed in the State.

In his address the Chief Minister said that majority of people in Jammu and Kashmir are non-vegetarians with preference to lamb as well as chicken and fish. State, particularly Kashmir Division is acutely short of red and white meat. More than 75% of the meat consumed comes from neighboring states. Imports of animals and animal products at such a large scale are severe drain on the economy of the State. We would like to see innovations in animal breeds, feeds and health care, which bring near self- sufficiency in animal products, he said. He advised that since the Livestock husbandry in the State is semi-pastoral. Range and pasturelands are getting degraded, poisonous weeds are colonizing them. It is time to rejuvenate them, do aerial seeding on hills and sloppy lands. Available biomass needs to be transformed into total animal feeds, particularly for feeding animals during winter months.

Secretary DARE, DG ICAR and President NAAS Dr. Mangala Rai in his address extended his heartfelt thanks to the chief guest, guest of honour and dignitaries and cautioned that slow growth in agriculture with no significant decline in labour force has created a serious disparity between agriculture and non-agriculture and urban and rural India. In his thought provoking lecture, he stressed that need of the hour was to target rainfed, hilly, coastal, tribal and other ecologically sensitive areas for dissemination of improved technologies and development of infrastructure. Maintenance of good soil health, fertilizer and water use efficiency, provision of quality seeds, feed and fodder resource availability, Sanitary and Phytosanitary standards, dynamism and efficiency in the marketing system, Post-harvest processing and value addition are some of the areas which, Dr. Rai emphasized to be addressed for sustenance of Indian agriculture and enhancing agricultural income.

Earlier, Vice Chancellor SKUAST-K, Prof. Anwar Alam welcomed the chief guest, guest of honour, dignitaries, fellows of the Academy and the scientists from all over the country to the inaugural session of the congress. Prof. Alam applauded the support, guidance and encouragement provided by the Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor of the University for socio-economic development of rural masses. While informing the dignitaries about the rich history and cultural heritage of Kashmir based on Islamic spiritualism, peace, tranquility, humanity and fraternity the Vice-Chancellor also applauded the role played by Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in awakening the masses and their empowerment with his policy of "Land to the tiller", besides the establishment of SKUAST. Prof. Alam appealed the scientists of the country to postulate technological and institutional innovations that can lead to additional income and employment to rural masses whose livelihood base has shrunken, finding too difficult to assure minimum acceptable standards of living to the members of their family.

Dr. Shafiq A. Wani, (Organizing Secretary) proposed vote of thanks to the dignitaries, delegates, organizers and other participants at the end of inaugural session.

(PR Unit/June/2009)