October - December 2014
Indian agricultural research and development has witnessed one of the larger patterns of innovations through the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) that has concluded this year. As we all know the project was implemented by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research with extramural funding support, jointly from the Government of India Plan funds and the World Bank.
The project objectively enabled the innovation capacity of national agricultural -research system (NARS) by fostering pluralism in agri-cultural research and stronger bonds among non-conventional stake-holders. While the country's priority was to have sustainable trans--formation of Indian agriculture sector from primarily food self-sufficiency to more of a market orientation, poverty alleviation and income generation, do conglomerate to foster socio-economic development. In this endeavour, the NAIP acted as the catalyst to accelerate collaborative development and application of agricultural innovations involving the public, private and non-governmental research organizations and farmers. One of the major strides being, new capacities in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to address the challenges of sharing, exchanging, and disseminating knowledge and technologies. Establishment of the state-of-the-art technology based Advanced Super-computing Hub for OMICS Knowledge in Agriculture (ASHOKA) at Indian Agricultural Statistical Research Institute, New Delhi is towards this direction—enabling Central Data Warehousing of genomic data and integrating data mining tools to provide on-line system of analysis and knowledge extraction to promote bioinformatics in biotechnological research for agriculture.
Notable strides in the infrastructural innovations to facilitate the agricultural research, education and extension have been: Establishment of online examination facility under the Agricultural Scientists' Research Board in 23 locations; Rice Knowledge Portal Management Labs in 8 languages at 8 locations; e-learning portal having e-courses content for degrees in Agriculture, Fisheries Science, Dairy Science, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry, Horticultural Science, Home Science and Agricultural Engineering; Agropedia (knowledge management) portal; Statistical Analysis of Data Labs at 9 locations; 143 member Consortium for e-Resources in Agriculture (CeRA) in NARS providing 24x7 accesses to online library of 3,490 national and international research journals; Online e-Publishing System for Indian Research Journals in agricultural and allied sciences; Digital repositories of knowledge in agricultural science and technology - e-granth, Krishikosh and Krishi-prabha; Knowledge dissemination and market intelligence with e-advisory services at 10 centres across the country etc. In specific, the Integrated Information Dissemination System (IIDS) developed and validated as Annapurna Krishi Prasar Seva involving Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) in Andhra Pradesh is a viable and proven replicable model.
Business Planning and Development (BPD) units spearheaded the innovation management tasks of the NAIP consortia as well as the NARS institutions with two major successful events - the Agri-Investors' Meet and the Agri-Biz Idol Camps culminating into a nationwide Krishi Parivartan Yatra. The latter brought farmers and agri-preneurs at one platform for partnerships in sound commercial ventures in agri-input technologies. BPD units provided support to 91 incubatees graduated for the start-ups in promoting agribusiness; commercialized 331 technologies, facilitated filing of 186 patent applications, mobilized fund 1,937 lakh) for incubates, and trained 3,743 entrepreneurs across the country. With regard to value chain, R&D covered production to processing of 272 technologies, including 99 production and 173 processing technologies for crops, livestock and fisheries, along with their social, institutional and economic environments in which these processes operated. Activities in value chains.
In agro-forestry, forest products and biomass and post-harvest processing and packaging value chain in perishables -flowers, fruits, spices, ginger and cashew and composite geo-textiles of coconut fibre, jute and polyolefin developed are noteworthy.
The NAIP's special focus has been on the improvement of livelihood security of people living in 90 disadvantaged districts through technology-led innovation systems and building social capital. This created a better ownership of the package of activities by farmers and also a sustainable model of rural development. The activity generated 409 site specific models for natural resource management; improved crop cultivation practices; promotion of horticulture, aquaculture, agro-forestry, backyard poultry and livestock-based farming systems etc. In all, over two lakh direct beneficiary farmers were covered.
While special thrust was given on strengthening basic science research under NAIP, that is now being taken up on programme mode under the Council, strategic research such as biosecurity, nano-technology, transgenics did get a focus. Overall, the NAIP has meaningfully realized a culture of innovation in the Council; built system-wide capacity for organizing and managing the ever-changing scenarios; contributed to the planning and development of business incubation for new innovations; escalated resource augmentation, and development of indigenous or naturalized protocols for attaining excellence in frontiers of biotechnology, nano-technology, sensors in agricultural applications etc.
I am sure the NAIP experiences will help the Council in planning our future R&D and also in manifesting integrated and inclusive agricultural research platform to enable enhanced productivity, soil-health and income generation to the farmers.