Saturday, October 17, 1998
of agriculture needed
pest from Pak
Farm education vision 2020
PRESENTLY, there are 33 state agricultural universities (SAUs) (including four ICAR institute/deemed to be universities and 172 colleges in India engaged in agricultural education. The universities, in addition to imparting higher education, also undertake need-based problem solving research and technology transfer activities. There is, however, no room for complacency and a long-range successful planning of the agricultural education system needs to be carried out keeping in view the future requirements of the population engaged in and dependent on agriculture. We must identify the weaknesses in our education system that hinder the progress of agricultural research and development. To achieve excellence in agricultural education and make it user-oriental (rural people) by the year 2020, we have to adequately address critical issues like poverty, population, nutritional security, regional imbalances in production system, importance of indigenous innovations, low-cost-high-profit technology generation/ dissemination, conditions of the households in villages, and other economic and environmental aspects.
The curricula for agricultural education must be regularly upgraded in the light of the rapid advances in frontier areas of science and technology, ever-emerging constraints in sustaining agricultural production, increasing degradation of natural resources, and dynamic changes or variations in the socio-economic conditions of the rural people. In addition, with changing global scenario and liberalised economy, we must produce creative graduates capable of competing at the international level.
The ICAR has established an accreditation board to evaluate the academic programme and institutional set-up to determine equivalence of qualification and other matters related to the standards of agricultural education. The functioning of this board needs to be strengthened so that competent agricultural graduates are produced in all farm universities and institutes. At present quite a good number of colleges in general universities are offering degree in agriculture. The board should have statutory powers to enforce desirable standards and to derecognise the colleges with inadequate expertise and infrastructure.
Improvement in the competence of teachers has to be given high priority. Suitable long-term measures have to be taken for faculty upgradation and for identifying core teachers, developing norms for teaching, instituting proper mechanisms for teacher and student evaluation and providing training in educational technology and management.
The knowledge-intensive vocational training is urgently required in areas like seed production, nursery, fisheries, poultry and livestock management, bee-keeping, mushroom production, agriculture, tissue culture, agri-business, etc. It would require strong linkages of the SAUs and institutes with farmers, industry and policy making and implementing agencies to provide avenues for on-farm and off-farm employment generation. Graduates in this way would become job creators rather than job seekers.
Out of the 6.6 million manpower working in science and technology in India only about 3.8 per cent are in the agricultural disciplines. Such a figure is pathetically small in the light of the fact that 70 per cent people of our country live in rural areas. About 74 per cent of the total rural workers are related to agriculture and 43 per cent is the share of agriculture in the gross domestic product.
The present system of education is over compartmentalised and adequate interaction of SAUs, colleges and institutes with farmers and the industry in academic planning needs to be strengthened.
The agricultural education and work experience in agriculture need to be introduced at the school level with the aim of improving agricultural literacy in rural areas. A component of some basic knowledge about crop management and production, post-harvest handling and some vocational training in the form of non-degree training will introduce the learners to the basic skills for sustainable development. In addition, some diploma-level agricultural polytechnic or training centres may be started in rural areas where manpower can be trained to take up self-employment.
Direct funding by private organisations for agricultural education in India has not yet been formalised. The scope of privatisation of agricultural education will be in creating ways and means to meet the direct needs of the agro-based and supporting industry. This can be achieved by giving special attention to industry participatory research and teaching so as to enable the teachers and scientists concerned to devote more time and effort in understanding the objectives, constraints and potentials of the agro-industrial sector in the state.
It is high time we ponder over some of the key questions like:
Do we have the necessary scientific temper to lead agriculture in new directions in the next century?
Do we provide right type of education to produce adequately talented and creative human resource?
Do we attract students for education in agriculture?
Do we have adequate scientific support from frontier disciplines of science?
Are we adequately passing the fruits of agricultural research to the small and medium farmers?
Do we have necessary financial support to develop technology and trained human resource relevant to the required transformation?
Wonder manure developed
A GROUP of progressive farmers from Solapur district of Maharashtra has developed a wonder manure which, it claims, can revolutionise Indian agriculture leading to bumper crops at a fraction of the cost of chemical fertilisers.
Titled amrit sanjivani, the fertiliser has been developed by members of the Pandharpur unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) after four years of experiments using cow dung as the main raw material.
Vastly different from the composite manure used by farmers of generations, amrit sanjivani can be prepared by a farmer himself by a simple method and it is useful for all types of crops, vegetables, fruits and trees, Anant Dattatreya Karve of the BKS, Pandharpur, said.
Karve said for preparing the fertiliser for one acre of land, a farmer would need 60 to 70 kg of cow dung, 3 kg of urea and an equal quantity of super phosphate in the powedered form, 1 kg of potash and 2 kg of thin expeller groundnut cake.
The cow dung should be poured in a plastic tank having a capacity of 200 litres along with the three chemical fertilisers and the groundnut cake as per the dosage prescribed for an acre to prepare the manure, he added.
For preparation of amrit sanjivani, water should be poured into the plastic tank where the cow dung and other ingredients had already been put.
The mixture should be stirred with a stick and the tank closed for 48 hours which would produce bacteria extremely beneficial for crop, he said.
The mixture should be used immediately for better results, he said, adding it could also be used in farms having drip irrigation system.
The manure could drastically cut the expenditure incurred by farmers on chemical fertilisers and pesticides up to 90 per cent, Karve claimed.
Karve said only 7 per cent chemical fertilisers were used in the new manure which also decreased the chances of pests and diseases in the crop to a great extent.
The dung of Indian cow gives the maximum results, he said, adding it should be fresh and stored four to six days before preparing the manure.
The manure could tremendously help regain soil fertility in lands where increased use of chemical fertilisers had caused havoc, Karve added.
Corporatisation of agriculture needed
Why has the seven-year-old economic reform process not touched the agriculture sector ? Surely it is not the industrial sector alone that deserves the benefits of reform.
China first initiated reforms in the agriculture sector, then extended the process to industry and trade. Consequently it attained and sustained an overall growth rate of 9 per cent for over a decade.
Agriculture continues to be a victim of over regulation, tied up in outdated policies.
Land ceiling and tenancy laws promote the proliferation of small and marginal holdings so that farmers cannot reap the benefits of the economies of scale.
Power and irrigation continue to be in short supply. Credit facilities are low and the agriculture sector is starved of private investment. Foodgrain storage facilities, monopolised by the government, are hampered by wastage and they lack an effective grading system.
In its stated aim to help the farmers, the government supplies power, water, credit and fertilisers to farmers at prices below cost. This leads to huge economic inefficiency in the use of resources on the one hand and bankruptcy of input supplying agencies on the other, says a CII study.
Stifled by the government, ignored by private investors, by-passed by technologists. Thats the agriculture scenario.
Agriculture is starved of investment and real investment in irrigation has been on a downslide. This trend must be arrested and more land brought under irrigation.
Next, agricultural markets must be liberalised. At present, the markets are controlled by government pricing policies, which are fiscally unsustainable.
The Essential Commodities Act of 1955, which applies to the movement, pricing and storage of agricultural commodities, must be set aside in line with ground realities.
All controls on free movement, stocking limits, future trading etc must be removed in the long run, eventually allowing an open market pricing policy.
A critical, albeit controversial, issue is that of input subsidies. Studies have shown that not only are they a huge fiscal burden they are concentrated in the richest states, among the richest farmers. Subsidies on power, water and fertilisers should gradually be reduced. High spending on subsidies and welfare programmes, coupled with declining cost recovery is discouraging productive investment.
The ideal path to follow would be for the government to invest in the creation of rural infrastructure like power, irrigation, roads and also in providing health care, safe drinking water and education in villages.
Private investment should be pumped into seed multiplication, adoption of new technologies, storage, processing and wasteland development.
Reform is also needed in the area of rural credit. When farmers borrow from non-institutional traditional sources, they actually pay a minimum 30 per cent rate of interest. So, if they get institutional finance even at 13 to 14 per cent, it should be quite acceptable.
Corporatisation of agriculture can have many long-term benefits: better allocative efficiency, higher private investment, an increase in output, income and exports, and a higher multiplier effect, leading to the creation of wealth in rural India.
The system by which this will work can be illustrated through the Golden Triangle Model. The farmer will provide land and labour. The corporate sector will provide inputs and marketing. The banker will provide credit.
A corporate entity will enter into a contract with the farmer to purchase his produce at a pre-determined price and undertake the marketing of the produce in both domestic and export markets.
The corporate body will also do the entire spadework on behalf of the farmer for his credit and financing needs.
Now, to be able to make the venture a success, the corporate sector will invest in critical areas like better inputs and more efficient systems.
It will give farmers access to inputs like high-yielding seeds and plant breeds, better quality fertilisers and pesticides. It will develop efficient storage and transport infrastructure, cutting down waste and removing the spectre of distress sales.
Besides, the corporate sector will add value to the farm produce by setting up processing units and introduce the farmer to newer, more market-friendly technologies.
Unwelcome pest from Pak
RINDERPEST, the dreaded animal disease, may make its reappearance in India, thanks to Pakistan, unless concerted efforts are made by the government and the veterinarians to rule out that possibility.
India was provisionally declared a rinderpest-free country last year by the Paris-based Office International des Epizootich (OIE). It will have to wait for another three years before it is accorded the permanent status of a rinderpest-free country.
The programme to rid the country of this disease was launched in 1992-93 as part of a five-year project funded by the European Economic Commission. The funds for the project have however, been cut off by the EEC following nuclear blasts by India in May. This may derail the project, although efforts are being made by the Government of India to continue it.
The disease has a high mortality rate, says Dr M.S. Oberoi, Professor-cum-Head of the Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. It affects not only the cow and buffalo but also pigs, she-goat and some of the wild ruminants like deer and neelgai. It has been noticed even in a hardy animal like camel. The history of rinderpest is actually the history of veterinary sciences all over the world. The first institute to combat this disease was established in France nearly 200 years ago. In India, the first scientific institute was created in 1889 at Pune which as later shifted to Mukteshwar. The Indian Veterinary Research Institute is now located at Bareilly.
Every country files an annual report with the OIE about the cases of rinderpest. India has been filing nil report for the past couple of years. But the disease is still endemic. Areas on the border with Pakistan should be vaccinated against the disease. But it is a stupendous task.
The issue of rinderpest
along with the problems of other veterinary diseases is
likely to be discussed at the fifth international
veterinary immunology symposium due to be held at the PAU
from November 8 to 13. About 400 delegates from all over
the world are expected to take part in the symposium.
This is the first time that the PAU is playing host to an
international event in which so many foreign delegates
are expected to participate. More than 264 papers have
been received for presentation during the symposium. The
Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has
been requested to inaugurate the symposium.
Cole crops: Start transplanting cabbage, mid-season cauliflower and knol khol. Keep line and plant to plant spacing at 45x30 cm for cabbage and cauliflower and 30x20 cm for knol khol. Plant cauliflower on ridges and others on flat beds.
Pea: Start sowing mid season pea for green pods and the Mithi Phali variety from middle of October. Use varieties Pb. 87, Pb. 88 or Bonneville. Use 30 kg seed per acre. Drill seed in line at 45 cm apart.
Wilt and stemfly are serious problem of field pea, hence avoid early sowing in badly infested area. Treat the seed for the control of wilt and stemfly with Bavistin at 1 g and 5 ml of chlorpyriphos mixed in 15 ml of water for 1 kg of seed.
Weeds can effectively be controlled with the use of Afalon 50 WP (Linuron) at 500 g/acre or stomp 30 EC at 1 litre/acre as pre-emergence application i.e. within two days of sowing. Use 150-200 litres of water for uniform spray and use flat fan/flood zet nozzle only for this purpose.
Potato: Complete sowing of autumn potato crop, particularly for seed production purpose. Use healthy seed tubers.
Sow potato after applying 20 tonnes of farmyard manure; 155 kg of superphosphate, 80 kg muriate of potash and 82 kg of urea per acre. Farmyard manure should be applied about 10 days before planting potato, whereas fertiliser should be applied at the time of sowing preferably in mix with soil to avoid injury to tubers. Higher doses of nutrients can be applied if soil test shows low to very low status of these nutrients.
(Progressive Farming, PAU)
Punjab Agricultural University has released the following varieties of crops for cultivation.
Punjab Pasand: It is an early maturing variety of radish. Its roots are long, pure white, semi-stumped and free from hair. It is suitable for main season and gives an average yield of 214 q per acre.
Agri. found dark red (ADR): The bulbs of this variety onion are medium large, deep dark red with an average yield potential of 120 q per acre. It is suitable for sowing in the kharif season
The leaves are smooth but wavy and dark green. Main as
well as secondary sprouts are dark green. The leaves and
sprouts have slightly bluish tinge. They are also
compact, attractive and succulent. It gives an average
yield of 70.4 q/acre.