New Delhi: While the world faces enormous challenges with large populations, diminishing resources and the consequences of climate change, one very difficult challenge is sustainable food security for all. Over the years, agriculture productivity of the country has been severely affected in both quality and quantity. Scientist are eager to address these problems and find implementable solutions but need to develop a close connect with society for the best solutions to emerge.
Taking a major step in this direction, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has launched the Biotech-Krishi Innovation Science Application Network (Biotech-KISAN) that will be implemented in 15 agro-climatic zones of India in phased manner. This programme aims to work with small and marginal farmers especially the woman farmer for better agriculture productivity through scientific intervention and evolving best farming practices in the Indian context. The programme is currently open and the deadline is November 15, 2016. The researchers interested in being a part of this initiative can visit the DBT website to take a detailed look at the requirements.
The working together, in close conjunction, of scientists and farmers is the only way to improve the working conditions of small and marginal farmers. The DBT’s Biotech KISAN is a step in this direction.
The main reasons affecting productivity include drought, flood, availability and poor quality are major issues. Apart from that the poor soil health, lack of application of modern technologies in agriculture due to lack of knowledge and awareness, abiotic and biotic stress due to climate change; lack of availability of quality agricultural planting material at affordable cost to small and marginal farmers. The collapse of extension system for dissemination of new technologies among farmers, lack of use of available bio-resources at village level for proper nutrient management and processing, packaging and marketing is another factor.
The problems faced by the Indian farmer are special, small land holdings are the norm, a very small number of livestock which is often the primary source of livelihood and 15 different agro climatic zones. Solutions developed in the lab, primarily in the developed world do not necessarily address the problems faced by the Indian farmer.
There is a need for direct linkage between science laboratories and farms; it is now imperative that the Indian scientist understand the problems of the local farmer and provide solutions to those problems. Likewise, it is necessary to expose farmers to the scientific solutions available by bringing him to the scientific environment. This close interaction and need based research will allow innovative solutions and technologies to be developed and applied at farm level. In this regard, the DBT’s farmer outreach indeed hits the right spot.