Technology in agriculture

The agricultural sector carries immense significance for the Indian financial system. It performs a major function within the general socio-economic cloth of India. It contributes about one-sixth of the nationwide earnings and offers direct employment to almost 50 per cent of the workforce. It has positioned itself as extra related for assembly the meals, feed, fodder, gas, fibre and timber calls for of an rising human and animal inhabitants.

Agriculture, nevertheless, enjoys vitality for guaranteeing meals safety to all. As well as, it influences the expansion of secondary and tertiary sectors of the financial system by way of its ahead and backward linkages. The World Improvement Report 2008 of the World Financial institution emphasised that progress in agriculture is, on common, at the very least twice as efficient in lowering poverty than progress emanating exterior agriculture.

Agricultural progress reduces poverty immediately, by elevating farm incomes, and not directly, by way of producing employment and lowering meals costs. Whereas pre-independence intervals had been marked with extreme famines and stresses, the hurtful recollections of the mid-1960s nonetheless haunts many. India was hit by twin droughts in 1965 and 1966. Crop manufacturing crashed by onefifth. Because of lack of international change we couldn’t strategy the world market to purchase meals.

Solely unprecedented meals assist from America, about 12,000 miles away, below PL-480 on rupee fee, saved India from mass hunger. Throughout the second yr of that crucial interval of drought, then US President Lyndon Johnson, due to the sure insurance policies he had adopted, was releasing grain in driblets. At one level, we reached a stage the place there have been shares for less than two weeks and there was nothing in transit.

The state of affairs of the nation was labeled with such undignified remarks as ‘ship to mouth’. The disaster gave the nation’s management a chance to resolve to turn out to be self-sufficient in meals grains. The interval additionally coincided with a breakthrough in know-how for enchancment of rice and wheat strains. India took benefit of those applied sciences, experimented with them below the management of Dr M S Swaminathan and launched large-scale agricultural extension companies.

By means of using Mexican wheat varieties, 5 dwarf sorts of wheat together with about 200 different breeding strains had been launched. The success in rice varietal growth and different commodities like maize, jawar, bajra, small millet and so on. prompted a major progress within the manufacturing of meals grains. Inside three years the manufacturing of wheat doubled. The Inexperienced Revolution reworked India to self-sufficiency.

One of the vital notable achievements of Indian agriculture over previous couple of a long time has been the enlargement of meals grain output from practically 51 million tonnes (MT) in 1950-51 to over 295 MT in 2019-20. Equally, manufacturing of horticultural crops has surpassed 300 MT. The Inexperienced Revolution proved instrumental in offering the much-needed stimulus to agricultural manufacturing within the nation to beat meals shortages by augmenting the yield to supply by way of the availability of HYV seeds, improved irrigation amenities and fertilizers.

However we are able to’t afford to consider we’re far sufficient forward within the race (manufacturing vs demand) to fall asleep just like the hare which misplaced to a tortoise. The inhabitants of our nation is predicted to achieve 1.531 billion by 2030-31. To feed this inhabitants and one other 40 per cent further for seed, feed, wastage and industrial makes use of put the projected meals grain demand at 326 to 350 MT relying upon varied estimates.

The demand for edible oils, milk and milk merchandise, meat, egg and fish, greens, fruits and sugar has been projected at 24.31, 256.43, 29.45, 316.33, 178.74 and 44.77 MT, respectively in 2030-31 (NITI Aayog, 2018). We’ve got made progress in agriculture, however productiveness of main agricultural and horticultural crops may be very low compared to different nations. After years of Inexperienced Revolution and decline in agricultural merchandise, it’s apparent that the need of using new and extra superior applied sciences is greater than ever.

Our nation remains to be know-how deficit. Farmers nonetheless function with conventional implements. Yields per hectare of meals grain, vegetables and fruit in our nation are far under world averages. Our rice yield is one-third of China’s, and about half of Vietnam’s and Indonesia’s. Equally, the productiveness of pulses and oilseeds may be elevated 2.Three to 2.5 occasions, with consideration to seeds, soil well being, pest administration, crop life financial savings, irrigation and post-harvest know-how.

However the future calls for should be achieved with declining per capita availability of land, water and different finite pure sources. There’s additionally a rising realization that earlier methods of producing and selling applied sciences have contributed to critical and widespread issues of environmental and agrarian misery. Productiveness good points through the ‘Inexperienced Revolution’ period had been largely confined to comparatively nicely endowed areas.

Given the big selection of agroecological setting and producers, Indian agriculture is confronted with a terrific range of wants, alternatives and prospects. Development must be extra speedy, extra broadly distributed and higher focused. These challenges name for extra environment friendly and sustainable use of more and more scarce water and germplasm sources. One of the vital vital applied sciences is biotechnology which may result in transgenic vegetation: that’s vegetation that are ‘human-made’ and are tailor-made to satisfy the specified goal by switch and expression of the specified kind of gene to a goal plant.

Transgenic crops can supply precious advantages ~ elevated yields, improved taste or dietary high quality of meals and decreased use of pesticides. The raging debate over GM crops factors to poorly deliberate use of know-how slightly than failure of know-how. Nevertheless, as Borlaug had stated in 2004 ~ ‘If the naysayers handle to cease agricultural biotechnology, they are going to precipitate the famines’.

Presently, roughly 17 million farmers develop GMO crops world wide; most of them are in creating nations. In whole, greater than 60 nations import or develop GMO, and in 2017, 24 nations (5 industrial and 19 creating) planted biotech crops. As of 2017, the highest 5 nations rising GMO by way of crop areas are the US, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India. In India, Bt cotton is the one GM crop allowed for industrial cultivation. Nearly all cotton grown within the nation is genetically modified.

However India has not but grown GMO for meals. Brinjal is the second most consumed vegetable, after potato, in India. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) of the Authorities of India cleared Bt brinjal for commercialization in 2009. However following considerations raised by some scientists and anti-GMO lobbies the Ministry of Atmosphere introduced an indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjal in India.

Wholesome soil is a key pure useful resource and essential for agriculture because it acts as a dynamic dwelling system delivering a number of companies. India faces an acute downside of soil erosion. A nationwide database on land degradation ready the Indian House Analysis Group in 2016 confirmed that round 120.7 million hectare (mha) or 36.7 per cent of India’s whole arable and nonarable land suffers from varied types of degradation with water erosion being its chief contributor in 83 mha (68.four per cent).

An array of useful resource conservation applied sciences together with zero and decreased tillage, inexperienced manuring, crop rotations and so on. can be found. Zero tillage is used for minimal soil disturbance. This know-how permits direct planting with out ploughing or soil preparation. Seeding is finished immediately by way of floor residues of earlier crops utilizing seed drill which helps cut back seed price and guarantee uniform plant stands. Zero tillage reduces the price of tillage and offers comparable or greater yields.

Use of hydrogel (a water absorbing materials) in dry land or restricted water situations can enhance water use effectivity. Irrigation practices like drip or sprinkler technique additionally present excessive water use effectivity and save water. For bettering nutrient use effectivity, web site particular nutrient administration may be adopted. Proper supply, proper time, proper dose and proper place (4R) strategy of fertilizer software can enhance nutrient use effectivity.

In India, agriculture is usually in rainfed areas subsequently local weather resilient applied sciences are the necessity of the hour to allow the farmers to deal with the local weather variability. Good agriculture or/and precision agriculture is a brand new angle in farm administration. It includes the mixing of superior applied sciences into farming practices. It consists of making use of inputs (what is required) when and the place they’re wanted and has turn out to be the third wave of contemporary agriculture (the primary was mechanization and the second the inexperienced revolution with its genetic modification).

Just lately, there have been monumental improvements of agricultural manufacturing, not solely bettering productiveness, however simply as importantly, safeguarding the atmosphere. Seed sowing on the proper place and correct quantity may be very tedious. Efficient seeding requires management over two variables: planting seed on the right depth and applicable spacing between vegetation for optimum progress. Precision seeders can be found. In future, the present precision seeders will come along with autonomous tractors and ICT–enabled techniques that feed data again to farmers.

Feeding crops with vitamins as and when wanted to make synergy between nutrient demand and provide below totally different subject crops manufacturing system is the answer to handle particular variability of vitamins. Nanotechnology as a brand new highly effective approach can create large adjustments within the meals and agricultural system. This know-how is outlined as referring to supplies, techniques and processes which function at a scale of 100 nm (one nanometer is the same as one-billionth of a meter) or much less.

It helps agriculture in some ways. It helps to cut back environmental air pollution, to extend agricultural manufacturing and its functions embody: (1) nanoformulations of agrochemicals for making use of pesticides and fertilizers for crop enchancment; (2) plant illness prognosis; (3) postharvest administration and so on. Furthermore, nanosensors and nano-based sensible supply techniques might assist in environment friendly use of agricultural pure sources like water, vitamins and chemical substances by way of precision farming.

There’s a huge hole between the applied sciences developed within the analysis establishments and their applicability on the farmers’ subject. Consciousness amongst farmers as to applied sciences should be created for higher switch of analysis applied sciences.

(The author is a retired IAS officer)

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