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Adopt ‘smart agriculture’ to negate climate change effects: Expert


The Times of India, Nagpur, 29th January, 2015


Snehlata Shrivastav

NAGPUR: 'Smart Agriculture' is a concept that is being proposed by scientists, experts and planners as an answer to climate change which, along with other causes, is making agriculture unsustainable. Smart agriculture is also being projected to increase overall productivity, generate more employment and also conserve environment.


Speaking to TOI, JC Katyal, former deputy director general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and former vice-chancellor of Haryana University, said that due to climate change, local weather patterns had changed drastically which, in turn, were severely affecting the agriculture. Katyal was in the city to attend a national seminar on 'sustainable management of land resouces for livelihood security' organized by Indian Society of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning on Wednesday.


"It is possible to minimize certain harmful agricultural practices which cause agriculture. For example, tilling of soil causes release of carbon-di-oxide, which is a greenhouse gas. A farmer could mitigate gas emissions by minimizing tilling, and covering the soil with residues of crops like legumes," he said.


All this, of course, would need an adaptive farmer who is ready to change and is resilient. "Today, a combination of indigenous and modern agriculture and switching to techniques which make efficient use of fertilizers will increase the productivity. If this happens, the damage to the environment will also be minimal. Basically, smart agriculture revolves around land saving technologies. Land saving means conserving soil and causing minimal disturbance to it. Protective agriculture is another way of doing smart agriculture," he said.


Talking on other aspects of agriculture, Katyal said that it was very disturbing that a recent survey by the National Sample Survey showed that 35-40% farmers want to quit agriculture. This is because there have been no area-specific programmes or schemes for agriculture. Above all, he said, there is no monitoring of the implementation of the schemes. Hence the need of hour is farmer-centric, area-specific and enterprise-specific programmes.


Government has always planned programmes in isolation without consulting farmers. "We have never asked farmers what he wanted. We know we need to build both forward and backward linkages, credit system, assured market and technology for better agriculture. But we have never been able to take care of all these factors," said Katyal.


On agriculture education, he said the ICAR gives about 23-35% of financial support for infrastructure building of universities by strengthening of libraries, equipment etc. Accreditation of universities is also helping improve the quality of research and education. "University education, however, has not grown at the expected rate," he said.