Soil salinity, erosion, among others, posing problems: expert

Complex problems dogging the agriculture sector in India needs to be addressed, as the sector has to add six to eight million tonnes of foodgrains each year to cater to the growing population, Gurubachan Singh, chairman of Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board, has said.

India, which produced a record 257 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2011-2012, is likely to face reduced availability of water for agriculture, climate changes in terms of shift in rainfall pattern and temperature, decreasing area under cultivation and small land holdings, Dr. Singh pointed out at a foundation day lecture at the University of Agricultural Sciences here on Friday. Yet, the country has to annually add six to eight million tonnes of foodgrains, he said. “Soil salinity, erosion, alkalinity and acidity were posing problems. Agriculture in India should be made drought-proof to achieve growth,” he said and added that networking of all efforts from the grassroots could help the sector overcome challenges.

Dr. Singh said: “Integrated farming system should be evolved to help provide livelihood security, and plants that grow in drought conditions should be considered.” The challenge is not only in growing crops that are tolerant to one type of stress but also to have multi-stress tolerant genotypes due to climate change. Among others, he said, 120 million hectares of uncultivated land could be used to grow bio-fuels and agro-forestry; efficiency should be brought in nitrogen and fertilizer use and increase the use of rainwater from 29 per cent to at least 40 per cent. “The focus of the agriculture sector should shift to ensuring farmers’ participation, and problem-solving and multi-disciplinary research.”

Vice-Chancellor of UAS K. Narayan Gowda and the former vice-chancellors G.K. Veeresh, M. Mahadevappa and M.N. Sheelavantha were present.

A Kannada version of a farmer-friendly handbook was released. Awards were given to 12 teachers, scientists and staff members for their contribution to the field of agriculture. Besides certificates were given to those who helped raise funding for various projects.

More In: Karnataka | National