Central govt launches new programme to boost agricultural productivity in north-east India

7 out of 10 persons in the north-east practice farming yet the region depends on other states for farm produce as its agricultural productivity is abysmally low. The Central government seeks to bring in scientific intervention to solve this problem. More details here.

Gaon Connection
| Updated: June 22nd, 2021

The basic tenet of the programme would be the training of the local farmers to practice farming in a scientific manner which will increase their yield.

The economy of the northeastern states in India is primarily agrarian and at least seven out of 10 people in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram are occupied in agriculture-related activities. Yet, the region depends on supplies from other states to meet its demand. 

“The northeastern region accounts for only 1.5 % of country’s food grain production and continues to be a net importer of food grains even for its own consumption,” states the Union Ministry of Science and Technology in its press statement on the launch of a new scheme for the region.

“Same is the scenario in case of animal husbandry. The current status of agriculture productivity in the region suggests introduction of modern biotechnology tools to accelerate agricultural development,” it adds. 

A woman farmer in Tripura working in an agricultural field. Photo: Flickr/Michael Foley

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What keeps the production low in the northeast?

The Union Ministry’s Department of Biotechnology has announced a programme that will focus on introducing modern technologies and assist the farmers in the northeastern region to increase their yield. 

The Biotech-Krishi Innovation Science Application Network (Biotech-KISAN) programme will be extended to the states of the Northeast region.

“There is a need for direct linkage between science laboratories and farms,” notes the department in its outline for the programme for the northeast region.

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The department has identified four major impediments to higher production in the region: 

  • Water: drought, flood, availability and poor quality are major issues.
  • Soil: poor soil health, lack of application of modern technologies in agriculture due to lack of knowledge and awareness, abiotic and biotic stress due to climate change.
  • Seed: lack of availability of quality agricultural planting material at affordable cost to small and marginal farmers.
  • Market: collapse of extension system for dissemination of new technologies among farmers, lack of use of available bio-resources at farm / village level for proper nutrient management and processing, packaging and marketing.

How will productivity increase in the Northeast?

The Department of Biotechnology will  implement the programme in three steps: creation of a hub institution in the region that will ensure coordination with other agricultural institutions, moulding partnerships with other related institutions in the region, and launching research projects to explore solutions of the issues faced by the local farmers.

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The basic tenet of the programme would be the training of the local farmers to practice farming in a scientific manner which will increase their yield.

“Hub will create a network by developing strong linkages with top quality scientific institutions from across the country and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) / Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) / existing state agriculture extension services / system and other Farmers’ organizations in the northeastern region,” the statement mentioned.  

 The Biotech-KISAN Hubs and the partner institutes / KVKs will be used as the ‘Test beds’ for testing / validating / demonstration of various technologies developed from the projects supported by the New Delhi-based Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).

Biotech-KISAN is a scientist-farmer collaboration scheme for agricultural innovation that was introduced in 2017. It intends to connect research laboratories with farmers to explore innovative ideas and technology at the farm-level. 

Also Read: From walking five km to the village school to developing the world’s first liquid nano urea

Under this scheme, 146 biotech-farmer hubs have been established so far, covering all the 15 agro-climatic zones and the 110 aspirational districts of the country.

Read this report in Hindi