Governor inaugurates 9th Agricultural Science Congress


Vohra, Omar for blending modern science with traditional approaches to boost agri-production

The Governor, Mr. N. N. Vohra and the Chief Minister, Mr. Omar Abdullah have emphasized on close coordination between the Agriculture Universities and the extension agencies of the State Government to evolve a task force approach for carrying research from lab to land to boost agriculture production and productivity in Jammu and Kashmir.

They were addressing the Inaugural Session of the three-day 9th Agricultural Science Congress here today. The Congress has been organized by the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir, in collaboration with National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi. The theme of the Congress is ‘technological and institutional innovations for enhancing agricultural income’.

They said that greater attention also requires to be paid to ensure the timely availability of research outputs which are relevant to the farmers’ needs.

The Governor observed that blending modern science with traditional approaches is imperative to supplement, enhance and harness the advantages of bio-fortification, value addition and post-harvest management processes. He laid stress on ensuring availability of research outputs which are relevant to the specific needs of the farmers.

The Governor focused on the centrality of agriculture and its contribution to the economic growth in the state and the country. He also referred to the challenges faced by this sector, like stagnating yields, decreasing farm lands, unstable market processes, salinization, nutrient imbalances, emergence of drug resistant strains of pests, and gave a clarion call to the agri-scientists to address these issues and re-energize the agriculture sector.

Highlighting the tremendous scope of agriculture based sectors in the context of rural economy in J&K, the Governor said that the immediate challenge is to work out people’s-based strategies to give boost to agriculture and allied activities. He also observed that pooling of resources and sharing technical know-how is significant to achieve the crucial goal of self-sufficiency in agriculture production. He said that horticulture, aromatic and medicinal plants, cut flowers, dairy, poultry, fishery and animal husbandry have vast scope in the State for diversion of agriculture activities, give fillip to economy and generating employment. He exuded confidence that the Agricultural Science Congress, while deliberating on national issues, will also address the challenges and opportunities which are specific to the agriculture sector in J&K.

Wishing fruitful deliberations at the Science Congress, the Governor said that he is looking forward to the recommendations of the Congress, in the form of a vision document, for consideration of the policy planners.

The Governor, who was the Chief Guest at the inaugural function, also presented NAAS awards on the occasion.

Saying that the profitability of agriculture is a must for its growth, the Chief Minister said that there is a need to create greater awareness about the knowledge, skills and techniques to enhance productivity and quality of food-grains so that the farmers earn a respectable income. In this context, he said, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra Scheme launched by Government of India is a step in the right direction.

Mr. Omar said “our State is predominantly an agrarian State. Agriculture and allied fields like horticulture, forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries and sericulture constitute the most important sectors of the economy of the State as they provide livelihood to majority of its population. We are blessed with immense potential for production of fruits, vegetables, flowers, saffron, Kalazeera and a host of medicinal plants”. He said though SKUAST-Kashmir and the government departments have contributed significantly to the increase in the production yet there is great room for improvement. “In fact, the productivity of most of the crops in our State is not among the highest in the country. The State is deficit in foodgrains, vegetables, pulses and oilseeds. I urge the scientists to address this aspect appropriately and help the State to achieve self-sufficiency in production as far as possible”, he said adding that University has recently released a number of crop varieties and successfully launched rice-wheat rotation. “I do hope that we will be able to achieve self-sufficiency in foodgrains in the State soon”, he said.

“Majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir are non-vegetarians. I am told that 75% of the meat consumed is imported from the neighbouring states. There is, therefore, an obvious need to increase our livestock population substantially to meet the growing demand. The agriculture scientists must take measures to rejuvenate the pasture lands and explore the possibility of transforming the available biomass into animal feeds considering the prolonged winter in most parts of our State”, Mr. Omar said.

The Chief Minister said “we need to develop plant and animal environment control techniques that are affordable. We need to promote green house agriculture in a big way. Post-harvest technology and value addition deserve due attention to derive attractive economic benefits. I am glad that the university has started vocational training in mushroom culture, apiculture, floriculture, poultry production, processed food and feed products so as to promote self-employment opportunities”.

The Chief Minister said that this university is aptly named after the legendary leader Sher-i-Kashmir Jenab Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who pioneered the agrarian reforms in the State by bringing in the Big Landed Estates Abolition Act in 1950 and later the Agrarian Reforms Act of 1976. “These landmark enactments were without parallel in India as they conferred proprietary rights on the landless tillers of the State almost overnight”, he said adding that the benefits of these acts have not been optimally utilized to boost the agriculture production and productivity. “The key to the growth of agriculture and farming community is to show results on the ground”, he maintained.

The Secretary, DARE & DG, ICAR and President National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Dr. Mangala Rai in his address stressed that the need of the hour is to target rainfed, hilly, coastal, tribal and other ecologically sensitive areas for dissemination of improved technologies and development of infrastructure. He also laid emphasis on post-harvest processing and value addition for sustenance of agriculture and enhancing agricultural income.

The Vice Chancellor, SKUAST-K, Prof. Anwar Alam in his welcome address gave a resume of the activities of the University and its future plan of action to make it the centre of excellence. He appealed the scientists of the country to postulate technological and institutional innovations that can lead to additional income and employment to rural masses.

The Secretary of the Congress, Dr. A. K. Srivastava also spoke on the occasion. Vote of thanks was presented by the Organizing Secretary of the Agricultural Science Congress, Dr. Shafiq A. Wani. A galaxy of agriculture scientists from across country are participating in this mega event.

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