Focus on sustainable agriculture for zero hunger and poverty free nation

‘Agricultural Scientists’ Meet’ is a significant event of the India International Science Festival 2020. It provides a common platform for agricultural scientists, innovative farmers, teachers and students to actively participate and discuss on various emergent topics such as Synergism and tradeoffs in sustainable agriculture, NRM— challenges and policy framework, Precision farming technologies & agricultural production systems, Data-driven technologies in agriculture and their management, and Innovation and agriculture. The event aims at catering the need to reduce the impact of weather vagaries on agriculture and make agriculture a reliable income earning pursuit for marginal stakeholders.

Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India, Shri Kailash Choudhary inaugurated the two-day Agricultural Scientists’ Meet as part of India International Science Festival 2020. Other dignitaries on the occasion were Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog; Dr. T. Mohapatra, Secretary (DARE) and DG, ICAR. Around 200 participants including scientists, students and farmers attended the programme.

Prof. Kamal Vatta stated that there is a need to look for sustainable agriculture and this can be achieved through integration of ecological, economic, environmental and social aspects. Synergies are achievable at lower scale but when scale increases it becomes difficult to maintain the synergy in the system, so scale is very important. He expressed that despite research support and evidence of no productivity loss, farmers are reluctant to adopt sustainable agricultural practices only because of lack of economic incentive. He expressed his desire that economic incentives must be given to the farmers for adoption of sustainable technologies.

Dr. Suresh Pal informed that performance of agriculture sector has improved significantly in last few years. He emphasized on the need to double the export of our agriculture commodities by 2025 as we have growth of 3.5-4% for last few years. He also focused on production of oil-seed crops and other crops which we import.This will help reducing our import bill, he said.

Mr. Rajpal Rathore, farmer activist from Madya Pradesh, highlighted that there is a direct relation of sustainability with doubling the farmer’s income. He stressed that along with nutritional security, the production of chemical free food is also important factor for one health one world.

Dr. Anupam Mishra focused on sustainable agriculture in different regions of the country and stated that the meaning of sustainable agriculture in hill region, costal region, arid and semiarid regions are different. He highlighted various schemes of Indian Government for agriculture and rural development especially for the remote areas.

The second session focused on ‘Challenges and Policy Framework’. Dr. AK Singh, Ex-Vice Chancellor, Agriculture University, Gwalior and Ex-DDG and Secretary NAAS appreciated the organizers for highlighting the Natural Resource management (NRM) under Agriculture Scientist Meet and discussed foremost issues extensively in the country related to sustainable agriculture like ground water extraction, water quality, soil heath management and climate change. He also concentrated on the soil health management approach and advised scientific community to encourage the farmers for balanced utilization of fertilizer.

Dr. O.P. Choudhary, Head, Department of Soil Science, PAU, Ludhiana discussed about the ongoing practices adopted by the farmers in Punjab and advised the farmers to accept the innovation and technologies for higher yield and farm resource management.

Dr. Man Singh, PD, WTC, IARI outlined the long-term vision of sustainable agriculture keeping water at its centre. He explained the role of water, soil and energy in agro-ecosystem. Dr. Singh concentrated on near-future water conservation through water harvesting in changing climate and ground water recharging. For this type of focused research and development, useful knowledge requires an authenticated primary dataset. This information will help the community for planning and decision-making during climate change scenarios, he said. One of the progressive farmers from Punjab, Sh. Jagtar Singh Brar, Bathinda, also shared his views and experience based on soil degradation and soil exploitation issues due to intensive agriculture, soil health management, carbon credit awareness and the use of organic carbon instead of chemical fertilizer.

Dr. V.K Singh, Head, Agronomy, IARI highlighted the repeated cropping pattern approach of Indian Agriculture. “This kind of cropping system exploits the natural resources and threatens the state of soil health day by day”, he pointed out. Therefore, he suggested  shifting towards crop diversification. The inclusion of short duration crop can save the resources and help reduce the soil degradation.                                                           

Energy Conclave

There is a Need to Accelerate Technological Innovation to Deliver Eco-friendly and Cost-Effective Energy Technologies: Shri Raj Kumar Singh, Union State Minister (Power, New & Renewable Energy)

“Energy Conclave” focused on clean energy for Self-reliance and Global welfare and was inaugurated by Shri Raj Kumar Singh, Union Minister of State (I/C), Ministry of Power & Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The Minister appreciated efforts being done in making India a trailblazer in Energy sector with a focus on “Energy Access”, “Energy Sufficiency” and “Energy Transition”, paving way towards a vibrant “Energy Economy”, for a Sustainable future ahead, making renewable energy cheaper and affordable to all. He reiterated that by 2030, 40% of our established capacity will come from non-fossil fuel. The Minister emphasized on the need to accelerate and strengthen technological innovation so that it can deliver environmentally and socially sound, cost-effective energy technologies on a larger and more widespread scale.

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