Remarkable Growth in Agriculture – Shri Sharad Pawar

80th Annual General Meeting of ICAR

January 20, 2009 New Delhi

Unabated by the economic slowdown, agriculture has registered a remarkable growth of more than 4% during the last two years, stated by Shri Sharad Pawar, Union Minister of Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, while chairing the 80 th Annual General Meeting of the ICAR Society here today. We could achieve these milestones mainly due to technological interventions and weather-based farm advisories developed and recommended by ICAR, he said.

He proudly announced that record production of 230.67 million tonnes of food grains during the year. Shri Pawar further added, in oilseeds, a record production of 28.28 million tonnes was achieved with the foreign exchange earning of Rs. 12,875 crore through export of 7.62 million tonnes of oilseed products. Shri Pawar further added that timely supplies of inputs also provided the impetus for higher agricultural production and productivity.

Shri Pawar appreciated and commended the positive approach of ICAR, whose scientists quickly responded by devising a scientific strategy for rehabilitation and restoration of agriculture for flood-ravaged Bihar and adjoining areas.

Shri Pawar, who is the President of the ICAR Society, informed the members that the ICAR has launched a unique project on 'More crop and income per drop' in farmers' participatory mode which will promote efficient and judicious use of irrigation water. Similarly, an ICAR-Rural Development interface aims at conservation of natural resources along with creation of rural employment through identification and dissemination of technologies.

He informed the members that due to pro-active steps taken by ICAR, India is in the forefront of global efforts to contain the devastating wheat stem rust race Ug99.

Employing biotechnological tools for crop improvement, a GM cotton variety, a high-yielding mustard hybrid and a disease-resistant Basmati variety have been developed, Shri Pawar further said, transgenic potato was developed with higher protein content and better late blight resistance by engineering unique genes cloned from other plants.

While highlighting the achievements, he said, an annual fish production of over 6.8 million tonnes has become possible mainly through research, capacity building and technology transfer by the ICAR. We could ensure year-round availability of fish seed through the ICAR Mega seed project, said Shri Pawar.

Successful culture of tiger shrimp in inland ground saline waters of Haryana has opened up new avenues for farmers in the northern parts of the country. Production of an economical and indigenous shrimp feed based on ICAR technology would enable shrimp farmers achieve greater profits.

The Agriculture Minister informed the members that owing to a conscious decision of the Government of India to exempt the scientific positions in ICAR from restrictions on their recruitment, which had caused an initial dip since 2001 in total number of appointments, the ICAR has taken proactive measures to adequately man its scientific cadre. During the preceding year itself 448 scientists were recruited, he informed. In addition recruitment is in advanced stage for nearly 1000 scientists including the vacancies likely to arise by the end of this year, he further added.

Shri Sharad Pawar announced, in a major initiative, 78 new KVKs including 50 additional KVKs in large districts have been approved. To ensure quick, regular and quality delivery of improved technologies in the present knowledge-intensive era, e-connectivity to 200 Krishi Vigyan Kendras is being established.

While presenting the Annual Report of the ICAR, Dr. Mangala Rai, DG, ICAR informed that a significant breakthrough is development of first public sector transgenic Bt cotton varietiy Bikaneri Narma (BN Bt) has been developed for commercial cultivation and farmers can reuse seeds of this variety year after year. He proudly informed about birth of world's first cloned buffalo slated during February 2009 and also birth of first Mithun calf in India through Artificial Insemination.

Dr Rai said, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research marched ahead in generating technologies towards sustainable advancements in agriculture and allied sectors, improving quality of higher agricultural education, institutional capacity building, and fostering international linkages for cooperation in agricultural research. The Council has developed 117 varieties and hybrids of different crops.

In his address, DG mentioned that t he Council has taken decision to reorient the functioning particularly of National Research centres to work in Directorate mode on Groundnut; Rapeseed-Mustard; Soybean; Sorghum; Oil Palm ; Cashew ; Medicinal and Aromatic Plants; Mushroom; Onion & Garlic; Floriculture; and Water Management; Coldwater Fisheries; and Women in Agriculture . The National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects (NBAII) is established by reorienting Project Directorate of Biological Control. In order to protect agriculture from the increasing abiotic stresses through technological intervention, a state of the art National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management is contemplated.

Shri Kanti Lal Bhuria, Minister of State for Agriculture was present at the meeting along with Agriculture Ministers from various States and members of the ICAR Society. Shri A K Upadhyay, Additional Secretary, DARE and Secretary, ICAR, were also present along with senior government officials, and agriculture scientists.