An overhaul of Agro-R&D is imperative for fulfilling of India’s obligations of doubling farmer’s income. Comment.
The Agriculture sector requires robust R&D to improve livelihoods, by raising yields and quality. Therefore, there is a need for the following measures:
- Liberalising salary structures and promotion criteria of research institutions like Indian Council for Agricultural Research.
- Performance based promotion and competitive pay packages will help reverse brain drain of agricultural scientists.
- Increasing funding for agro R&D.
- Involving private sector in agricultural research through collaborations and joint projects.
- Agricultural universities have mushroomed recently, but quality has declined. So instead of approving new institutions, infrastructure and pedagogy in existing colleges should be improved.
- Two agricultural universities should be given sufficient funding to become world class, with high research output.
- Focus of agro R&D needs to shift –
- From cereals to fruits, vegetables, pulses and oilseeds.
- From purely increasing yields to improving shelf life, texture and taste.
- Ensuring drought, heat and salinity resistance to address the impact of climate change.
- India has comparatively few agri R&D startups. Thus more incubators, mentoring and handholding are needed to reverse this trend.
Sustainable Development Goal 2 mandates doubling income of smallholder farmers by 2030. Agri R&D is a viable tool to achieve the same. Thus reforming R&D in this sector should be taken up on priority basis.
Topics: GS-III: Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems • GS-III: E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers • GS-III: Major Crops Cropping Patterns in Various Parts of India • GS-III: Storage Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce Related Issues