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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 16.07.2013

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee delivered the 85th Foundation Day Lecture of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) today (July 16, 2013) at National Agriculture Science Centre Complex, Pusa, New Delhi.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said that we have to achieve higher productivity levels to attain the agricultural growth target for the Twelfth Plan period. We must place greater emphasis on productivity-driving measures such as diversification of crops, improvement in seed replacement rate, adoption of high yielding hybrid seeds, and improvement in water management practices.

The President said that the need for balanced use of fertilizers and pesticides should be propagated amongst our farming community through agriculture education and extension programmes. He said that ICAR and other agricultural institutions are engaged to promote fertilizer use efficiency. He stated that latest technology must be deployed to assist decision-making by farmers regarding selection of crop variety, right agricultural practices and right markets to sell the produce.

The President said that about 85 per cent farmers of India have small land holdings of less than 2 hectares, which restricts their full potential for production. To spur productivity growth in such farmlands, it is necessary to develop low-cost, light-weight, multi-purpose farm equipments. He said that mechanization of small farms is the need of the hour as it can also mitigate labour scarcity during peak season. Mechanization in agriculture should be facilitated by efficient energy management. He added that to reduce dependence on conventional fuels and ensure sustainability, our research institutions must focus on renewable energy models like solar power and biofuels.

The President said that we must make agriculture an intellectually stimulating discipline and a rewarding profession to attract talent in this sector. Agricultural education should focus on the contemporary challenges of food insecurity; declining productivity; depletion of natural resources; increased risk from climate change; regional imbalance; rising input costs; changing food habits, and post-harvest management. It must provide an academic framework to these issues for greater understanding by our policy makers. He said that the quality and relevance of agricultural research must be enhanced to bring within its domain cutting edge technologies like biosensors, genomics, biotechnology, nanotechnology and alternative energy sources.

On the occasion, the President launched ‘Kisaan SMS Portal’ and presented ICAR National Awards.

Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Shri Sharad Pawar, Union Minister for Agriculture & Food Processing Industries, Dr. Charan Das Mahant, Minister of State for Agriculture & Food Processing Industries and Shri Tariq Anwar, Minister of State for Agriculture & Food Processing Industries.