Plea to invest one per cent of agricultural GDP in research

“The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is asking the Government to invest one per cent of the total agricultural Gross Domestic Product in agricultural research for the XII Five Year Plan,” S. Ayyappan, Director General of ICAR, said here on Wednesday.

Delivering the convocation address of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, he pointed out that the agricultural research system at the national level was so strong that it was able to provide for the 122 crore population.

“Though India ranks high in production of certain commodities, the agriculture sector is facing many challenges with rising demand for food items and relatively slower supply response. The technological breakthroughs achieved in the 1960s are gradually waning. The agricultural scenario in Tamil Nadu too faces similar challenges even though its contribution to the agricultural development of the country is enormous,” Mr. Ayyappan said.

Tamil Nadu contributed to the country’s seven per cent of rice, five per cent of coarse cereals, nine per cent of maize, four per cent of oil seeds, and nearly 12 per cent of sugarcane. It produces 13 per cent of the country’s bananas, 25 per cent of loose flowers, five per cent of milk, and 18 per cent of eggs. Namakkal was the egg basket of the country. The main challenges the State faced included holding a large chunk of rainfed area, erratic monsoons, and the only State to have faced the tsunami.

The Director General added that the ICAR was planning to set up a Centre for Disaster Management in the State. The Government was investing Rs. 10 lakh on a graduate, Rs. 15 lakh on a postgraduate, and Rs. 25 lakh on a Ph.D. scholar. Hence, the role of agricultural graduates was very vital to agriculture and the farmers.

Elaborating the way ahead for ICAR, the Director General said it would be a five-pronged approach: enhancing input use efficiency and reducing production costs, building resilient agriculture, overcoming abiotic and biotic stresses, promoting farm mechanisation, and improving post-harvest management.

Governor K. Rosaiah gave away awards to the rank holders and degree certificates to the candidates.