Underscoring the capacity and capability of Indian farmers to enhance farm production for domestic as well as global markets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked the scientific community to set specific goals for themselves to ensure that lab research reaches farmers and helps raise their incomes.
Addressing the 86th foundation day of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research here, Mr. Modi at the outset said that Indian farmers deserve a standing ovation for providing for the nation and changing the face of the country in the food and farm sector. Yet, there is potential for more not only in crops but in fisheries and animal husbandry where a global market is available, he added.
In his first public event since becoming Prime Minister, Mr. Modi told the farm researchers and scientists upfront that it was not enough to sit in five-star seminar rooms to analysis why something cannot be done but to think how it can be done. “Design programmes for people and the country that mobilise human resource and bring solutions.’’
Emphasising the need for raising productivity when land is shrinking and population is increasing, he said, with traditional knowledge of farmers and scientific intervention this challenge can be addressed. “There is no other way out. Scientists must come out with innovations that can produce crop in lesser number of days without erosion of quality. Compromise on quality will kill the market.’’
“Why is China ahead in research in medicinal plants whereas in India medicinal plants are dwindling? The farm and pharmaceutical sector must come together to address this area, where sky is the limit,’’ he said.
Bemoaning the supply-demand gap in pulses and edible oilseeds, Mr. Modi asked scientists to dedicate themselves in the research of suitable variety so that the country is not dependent on import of these commodities. “The poor get their requirement of protein from pulses. Take it as a challenge that in a few years there will be no need to bring edible oils and pulses from outside. This is a national challenge and it must be taken up as a priority,’’ he said.
Recognising that traditional farmers lack the risk-taking mind-set, he asked the ICAR and farm universities to draw a list of young, educated progressive farmers in their sphere of influence who are willing to take risk and experiment with new innovations and technology.
“Draw a talent pool and tailor your innovations to address their needs. Each university should draw out young researchers and use the community radio system to reach out to farmers. Give them hourly updates on crop, fertilizer, weather, pests and diseases. You will be more powerful, credible and popular than the regular media barons,’’ he told farm scientists.
He also advised ICAR scientists to collate all the research papers in the Council’s 86 years of existence and cull out significant innovations and technologies contained in them for dissemination to farmers fields. “ There must be answers to various challenges in the farmers fields.’’
Highlighting the need for managing water, he said people must be made to realise that every drop of water is precious. “Even when Sabarmati river was then flowing in full form, Gandhiji used to insist on half a glass of water so that the precious commodity is not wasted. It is this kind of awareness that must be brought in people for conserving the natural but limited resource.’’