ICAR to address manpower shortage in farm research.
There is a wide disparity within states and between states on yield and productivity of various horticulture crops due to either non-availability of good planting material or of precision technology. Hence the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has launched major initiatives to take up need-based research and create a new generation of highly qualified scientists for this purpose.
ICAR is doing this through two initiatives called 'Farmer First' and 'Student Ready' to create suitable conditions for better and uniform horticulture production across the country. "We need to now focus on research that will solve the problems of farmers and is need-based. Council is trying to identify these problems for all horticultural crops or, for that matter, all crops under the Farmer First programme and take up research programmes based on demands of farmer," the ICAR deputy director general of horticulture N K Krishna Kumar told.
Another major factor in improving the research quality in ICAR institutions was absence of qualified manpower. Kumar said there were many specialized areas in agriculture like plant breeding, virology, agriculture economics and micro-nutrition where qualified manpower was not available. To create manpower in these sectors council was focusing on improving the agriculture education through its Student Ready programme. "Human resource is the biggest hindrance in quality research in agriculture so the council is specifically targeting the post-graduate education in the state agriculture universities," he said.
ICAR, Kumar said, was also in the process of preparing a mega plan for ensuring biosecurity in agriculture to prevent entry of unwanted organisms like bacteria, viruses and fungi that move in and out of the country due to unchecked movement of the plant material. "We are hoping the National Bio-security Bill gets clearance during the ongoing parliamentary session. This will prevent entry of pathogens in the country and also allow India as a developed and responsible nation to not let domestic pathogens go out," he said.
The council was putting in serious efforts for conservation of all the genetic resources. But generally conservation was restricted to only seeds. So stress was now on conserving 'pollen grains' of various species through cryopreservation at minus 80 to minus 180 degrees Celsius for any future use. Registration of all plant varieties had become the order of the day, he added.