11th November 2016, Coimbatore
In spite of facing innumerable problems such as water scarcity, many farmers still continue to stay in agriculture, because of sentimental reasons and their risk taking ability, Shri. R.Kamalakkannan, Minister for Agriculture, Puducherry said here today. Inaugurating the 25th meeting of ICAR Zone-8 at ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore, he said the area under cultivation in Puducherry has come down drastically from 26436 ha in 2000-01 to 15850 ha at present due to these limiting factors. The aim should be to substitute ‘per hectare productivity’ with ‘productivity per drop of water’ as suggested by Prof. M.S.Swaminathan, he added.
Widespread drought in several states in ICAR Zone-8 during the recent past has drastically curtailed the area under sugarcane and has led the farmers to think of alternate crops which require less water and are shorter in duration. So, the research institutions in the region need to identify varieties tolerant to drought or of shorter duration, he said.
Among the allied activities, in the animal husbandry sector, the animal population has decreased substantially in this region in the recent decades. For augmenting the farmer’s income, crop production has to be integrated with animal husbandry. A comprehensive organic agriculture package taking in to account all the components of Integrated Farming has to be given to the farmer. ICAR has to help this region on various issues being faced in Agricultural mechanization, post-harvest processing and storage of cereals and horticultural produce and weather-linked agricultural insurance, the minister requested.
Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra , Secretary (DARE) & Director General (ICAR) in his Presidential address mentioned that the ICAR - Zone VIII comprising Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry and Lakshadweep is rich in terms of agricultural education, research and extension as it has 6 SAUs, 3 Veterinary Universities, 2 Fisheries Universities, one horticultural university, 13 ICAR institutes, 79 KVKs and 7 AICRP (Headquarters).
The regional committee meetings are serving as platforms for establishing better linkages between the NARS (National Agricultural Research System) and the state departments. They also identify research gaps by State Agricultural Universities/ICAR institutes and constraints in transfer of agricultural technology by extension agencies, he said.
Expressing concern over the segregation of agricultural universities and formation of too many private agricultural colleges, the Director General stressed the need for revenue generation by the SAUs and research institutions.
Calling upon the development departments and Universities to interact and work together to serve the farmer effectively, the DG felt that the greatest satisfaction comes from solving the problems of the farming community.
Dr. K.Ramasamy, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in his special address emphasized the need for earmarked areas for producing agricultural crops in the country. Expressing concern over the shrinkage in area under agriculture, reduction in the contribution of Agriculture to GDP, low investments in agriculture and lack of intelligent marketing facilities for the farm produce, he stressed the need for empowering the agricultural graduates as they are the biggest strength for improving the NARS of the country.
Earlier, in his welcome address and introductory remarks, Dr. A.K.Singh, Deputy Director General (Agricultural Extension) highlighted the recent developments that took place in the past two years in the region. He sought the cooperation of the respective state departments for the successful implementation of the technologies developed at the research institutes and state agricultural universities at this region.
Dr. Bakshi Ram, Director, ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute and Member-Secretary, Regional Committee VIII proposed formal vote of thanks.
Around 150 delegates including Vice Chancellors, Directors of Research, Directors of Extension Education and Deans of the State Agricultural Universities (SAU), Directors of ICAR Institutes, Project Coordinators and Heads of ICAR Regional / Research Centres and officials of the development departments of agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and forestry from the region are participating in this event.
(Source: ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore)