T. Madhava Menon, former vice chancellor of Kerala Agricultural University, feels that the university should adopt a “land-to-lab” attitude in the changing Kerala scenario.
Like all institutions in Kerala, the KAU tends to identify itself more with the career prospects of its employees than with the needs of agriculture in the State.
Thus, “its link with agriculture as practiced — reference back to the farmers and their problems — is getting weakened and its academics prefer to research areas of their interest that would glorify their career. This has led to the mindset that it is always “lab-to-land” in the sense that farmers should just adopt and follow the professors’ advices”, says Mr. Menon, also an IAS retiree.
‘Relevance not lost’
Universities like KAU never lose its relevance.
Though farmers, “as a category solely depending on agriculture as the only means of livelihood are fast disappearing, agricultural production still contributes a significant proportion of the State’s income, and more so, to its welfare,” he observes.
The KAU had several times been identified as the best among agricultural universities in India.
Its graduates have distinguished themselves the world over. Its continuing thrust in plant breeding and agronomy has been of incalculable advantage to Kerala farmers. Several varieties of rice, pepper and coconut released by it are part and parcel of agriculture as practiced in Kerala today. Its extension services have been utilised by thousands of farmers over the years, he said.