Governor exhorts Farm Universities to re-orient approaches for achieving Food Security

SRINAGAR:Chairing the 30th University Council meeting of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir (SKUAST-K), held here at the Raj Bhavan, Governor N.N. Vohra, Chancellor of the University, observed that as a step towards achieving the food security goal the present levels of production and productivity should be bench-marked and pragmatic targets set for each of the pilot projects so that progress achieved can be measured after every harvest season. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Pro-Chancellor of the University, and Mr. Ghulam Nabi Lone, Minister for Agriculture, participated in discussions.

The Governor and the Chief Minister released several publications brought out by the University:  SKUAST-Journal of Rsaerch; Annual Report 2014-15; Objective Sericulture; Envisioning Urbanization Process, Issues, Extent, Drivers & Implications: A case of Mountainous State of Jammu & Kashmir.

The Council congratulated the VC for the re-accreditation of the University for five years (2015-20) and for getting Department of Biotechnology Star College status for the Faculty of Agriculture, Wadura.

At the Governor’s instance the VC explained the arrangements made for continuing teaching and research programmes in the University during the period of unrest in the Valley. The Chancellor advised the VC to plan for construction of additional residential facilities, particulalry for the girl students, within the Campuses so that teaching work could be carried out on a sustained basis.

Chief Minister suggested introduction of short term certificate courses in agriculture, horticulture and other allied sectors and urged the VCs of both the Farm Universities to encourage and guide the youth and young entrepreneurs, particularly women, to set up farm related co-operatives with the support of the financial institutions and the State Government.

To ensure wider dissemination of information relating to new technologies and improved farm practices both the VCs were advised to publish in local language weeklies, produce TV programmes, highlight achievements of progressive farmers, institute awards for best performances in farm practices,educate the farmers for adopting new technologies, eco-friendly techniques for increasing production and productivity.

The Vice Chancellors were also advised to provide the students increased opportunities of spending more time in the farmers fields. The VCs were also urged to expand the specialized farm practices introduced in the model villages to the other areas also.

The Council discussed the work done by the University for providing high yielding seeds to the farmers and significantly increasing the seed replacement rate and reviewed the to-date position of the ongoing programme to establish High Density Apple orchards which would yield much larger incomes within 3-4 years of planting.

To ensure against excessive usage of pesticides on fruit plants, the Council advised the VCs to develop and widely disseminate a pragmatic pesticide spraying schedule which would contain and control the levels of residual pesticides in farm produce. In this context, the Governor stressed the need for expanding the laboratory network in the State for pesticides and fungicides being tested before sale in any part of the State.

Vice Chancellor Dr. Nazeer Ahmed made a detailed presentation on the various initiatives which had been undertaken by the University since the last Council meeting. He informed that his students had secured 98 Fellowships/Scholarships; 73 students under the ICAR quota had been selected for admission to various Faculties of the University; Rice Research Station Khudwani has been recognized by IRRI for development of cold tolerant rice varieties; Faculty of Veterinary Sciences has been identified as partner in Prime Minister’s Package on Pashmina R&D Programme; 9 scientists had secured prestigious international fellowships (6 UGC Raman Fellowships and 3 Post Doctorate Fellowships for USA and UK); and 17 new Projects had been got approved from various funding agencies, valuing Rs. 5.68 crore, in agriculture and allied subjects.

The VC informed that trainings for entrepreneurship and skill development are being imparted to unemployed rural youth, farm men and women, school pass outs, and SHGs etc through KVKs; the University has developed sound agricultural practices for high density plantation in saffron for ensuring high productivity up to 8-10 Kg/ha; 16 districts have been identified to possess the potential for saffron production covering an area of 12,407 ha, including 3,715 ha presently under cultivation in traditional areas.

The VC informed that resource mapping of different districts of Kashmir and Ladakh region has been completed wherein detailed survey/sampling and analysis of soil samples collected from all 12 districts of Kashmir using GPS/GIS technology have been completed and geo referenced soil fertility maps of all districts of Kashmir Valley including cold arid regions of Ladakh have been developed. The digital maps are available on SKUAST-K website to be used by farmers and other stakeholders. He informed that 1400 soil health cards were issued in the year 2015 through KVKs to farmers in the Valley and this year the University in partnership with the State Agriculture Department will be issuing 4,500 of these cards.

The VC informed that during last 4 years the University has undertaken various programmes for transition towards organic agriculture by improving both production capacities and up scaling technological support. The organic input production facilities are now available to meet the State’s requirements of bio-fertilizers, bio-agents and other cold tolerant nutrient mobilizing soil microbes, he said.

The University has taken up production of high value vegetable varieties and hybrids like sprouting broccoli, swiss chard, parsley, Brussels sprouts, celery, capsicum etc, the VC informed. He said that in  Leh, Kargil, Nyoma and Zanaskar a technology for year round cultivation of vegetables under protected poly houses has been undertaken and the results are highly encouraging, particularly for cole and leafy vegetables. For diversification of vegetable cultivation, the University conducted several evaluation trials and demonstrations in non-traditional areas like Changthang, Zanskar, Gurez, Lolab, Karnah, Sitaharan Larnoo etc. and identified crops and vegetables for augmenting vegetable requirement of the local population.

The VC informed that the University has released 72 varieties of hybrids in different cereals, pulses, fodder crops, oilseed, fruits and vegetables for diverse agro-climatic conditions of temperate Kashmir and cold arid region of Ladakh. These new high yielding varieties have replaced traditional varieties which have substantially increased production capacity in the State. He informed that the  new Pop Corn Composite namely Shalimar-Pop Corn-1 has been identified and recommended for release at National level, Shalimar Wheat-2 has been introduced to fit in double cropping system with agronomic adjustments to boost production of cereal crops, and a technology has been developed for rejuvenation of senile orchards.

The VC informed that the University has developed close linkages with farmers in dissemination of result oriented technologies, varieties etc. Research Centre for Residue & Quality Analysis is made partly functional and work on residue analysis is going on.

  Among those who attended the meeting were   Prof. C.D. Mayee (Member), President South Asia Biotechnology Centre, New Delhi; Mr. Narendra  Singh Rathore, Dy. Director General (Edu), ICAR; Mr. B.B. Vyas, Financial Commissioner, Planning; Mr. P.K. Tripathi, Principal Secretary to the Governor;  Mr. R.K. Goyal, Principal Secretary, Agriculture Production Department (Incharge); Dr. Pradeep Kumar Sharma, Vice Chancellor, SKUAST-Jammu; Dr. Ishaq Wani, Director ((Budget) and Prof. M.H. Wani, Registrar, SKUAST- K.










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