SCAFi-CIBA lecture series: “Challenges in the Indian Agricultural Research and Planning – a way forward”, by Dr. Mruthyunjaya, former National Director, NAIP, ICAR held on March 20 2018

Dr. Mruthyunjaya, while giving his invited talk, revisited the landscape of Indian Agricultural Research System, and stressed that agricultural research should be society driven and agricultural scientists ought to have social responsibilities while planning and implementing their research programmes. Agricultural Science and Technology Innovations need to be quipped to meet the emerging food safety challenges of India , hence need to be 3-times rich in the R&D content in the days to come. However, Indian Agricultural Research once provided the translational agricultural solutions to the world has been trailing vis-à-vis our competitors, the China and Brazil. Dr.Mruthyunjaya touched up on the deteriorating agricultural educational standards, allocation of funds for agricultural research (<12% of ICAR allocation), prioritisation, and performance of research institutions, and the need for a refresh, where he quoted ‘It is difficult to make change, but we must change for better’.

He asserted that we are in the phase of 4th Global Industrial Revolution and the present time requires disruptive and shaking reforms in agricultural research planning adopting Techno-Economic Financial Prudence and Transformational Research prioritization. He advocated that we need to spend 40% our funds for agricultural research, shift the extension and educational functions from ICAR to the other arms of the government with alternative funding, internal autonomy and decentralised planning, competitive research grants from ICAR, mobilising funds from technology commercialisation, right sizing of ICAR and facilitating institutional partnerships across the sectors and even with international institutions. He was of the view that the developmental goals of the government (doubling farmers’ income), scientific mandate of the institutions (science and technology) and expectations of the scientists (personal and societal achievements) should have a congruence and complimentary to each other for the growth and development of agriculture sector in the country. ‘Taking a call is difficult but we must’ was his underlying message. Dr.K.K.Vijayan, President, SCAFi in his presidential remarks emphasised that brackishwater aquaculture is one of the vibrant farming sectors and our research findings have direct applications in the field, and the institute was able to transfer the technologies from the lab to the field, where social benefit is measurable. He added that institute is taking special care in mentoring the young scientists to blend their capabilities with the research requirements of the sector and the end users. Dr.S.Kannappan, Secretary, SCAFi in his welcome address highlighted the initiatives of SCAFi in the development of fisheries and aquaculture in the country, and importance of experience sharing by the scientists of eminence. At the end Dr.M.Kumaran, Treasurer, SCAFi proposed the vote of thanks.

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