Karnataka

Water scarcity a serious concern in farm sector, says agricultural scientist

Agricultural scientist S.L. Mehta addressing at sixth convocation of University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur, on Saturday. PHOTO: SANTOSH SAGAR  

Pointing at consistently diminishing water availability for agricultural activities over the years, Dr. S.L. Mehta, former Vice Chancellor of Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology, Udaipur and former Deputy Director General (Education), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, called upon agricultural scientists and universities to focus on developing newer technologies for enhancing water-use efficiency. He was delivering convocation address at sixth convocation of University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur (UAS-R) here on Saturday.

"Per capita availability of water is likely to drop to almost one forth as compared to that of in 1951. It is imperative especially in dry land agriculture for enhancing water-use efficiency. We shall have to produce more foodgrains with less water," he said.

Pests and climate change

Identifying extreme weather conditions caused by climatic changes and biotic stresses triggered by newer pests, insects, pathogens, nematodes and weeds as serious future threats to be encountered by global farm sector, Mr. Mehta emphasised the need for developing crop varieties that would not only be pest-resistant but also extreme-weather-resilient.

"Crop plants over the coming years will be threatened by completely new as well as strains of pests. Preparedness for their early detection and identification and development of pest risk analysis based on pest database is of paramount importance... We need to develop crop varieties resilient to extreme-weather conditions and technologies that could help climate-change mitigation," he said.

Agri-education

Stressing on importance of quality education in agricultural education, Mr. Mehta called upon to universities to get reoriented towards achieving more sustainability and profitability in agriculture with the effective use of knowledge, technology and innovations.

"Application of new knowledge and technology can alone be the prime mover of sustainable agricultural production and productivity across diverse agro-ecologies. Time has come to give it a broader orientation of agri-business, international competitiveness, trade and industry. Every farmer has to be an efficient producer as well as an informed market strategist," he said. The next generation of human resource in agriculture, he added, will have to be equipped with knowledge and technology to address new demands on agricultural system preserving natural resource base and keeping sustainability upfront.

Computer farming

Providing interesting insights about emerging computer farming at indoors in urban areas, Mr. Mehta said that the new type of enjoyable and drudgery-free farming controlled by computers would bring the agri-producer closer to the consumer.

"With realisation of computer farming, we will be able to grow delicious and nutrient-dense food with the taste, size, shape, texture and flavour of individual choice indoor anytime and anywhere. Our ability to produce 365 days a year as opposed to being dependent on a growing season would also give a tremendous advantage," he said.

Minister of State for Agriculture and Pro-Chancellor of the University Krishna Byre Gowda, Vice Chancellor P.M. Salimath, Director of Education B.V. Patil, and registrar D.M. Chandargi were present.

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