- Hybrid / GM Crops: Introduction
- Agriculture Research: Constrains & Reforms
- Agriculture Extension: Meaning & Types
- Agriculture Education
Continuing on with the combined summary of Survey16v1v2, NITI3YR and SDG2030 for descriptive exams:
– In the first part, we saw Economy -> agriculture -> Inputs (water, seed, fertilizer, credit etc.)
– Now in this second part, we’ll see Agriculture -> R&D
Hybrid / GM Crops: Introduction
Better to introduce answer with simple definition:
__ crops are the plants developed by ____ to take advantage of certain traits and get rid of less advantageous traits.
Now Fill in the blanks:
- Hybrid crops -> by cross-breeding / cross-pollination with other plants.
- Genetically modified (GM) crops -> by modifying / mixing of the genetic material (DNA) of plants with natural organisms.
Hybrid / GM Crops: Benefits
- Enhanced nutritional value of food e.g., Vitamin ‘A’ enriched rice, higher baking quality of wheat, protein quality in pulses, oil quality in oilseeds and preserving quality in fruits and vegetables.
- Shorter maturity duration to allow farmers to grow multiple rounds of crops in a year. [कम फसल अवधि]
- Uniform maturity period to make harvesting process more efficient, by ensuring economies of scale.
- Better agronomic characteristics: Tallness and profuse branching in fodder crops. Dwarfness in cereals, so that less nutrients are consumed by branches, leaves and stems. [ऐच्छिक सस्य विज्ञान गुण]
- Longer shelf life, moisture retention, fungal resistance etc. to reduce post-harvest losses.
- Plant’s mineral usage efficiency improved to prevent early exhaustion of fertility of soil.
- Create tailor-made plants for industries to produce starches, fuels and pharmaceutical chemicals.
- Higher resistance against abiotic factors like drought, salinity, water logging, heat, cold and frost. [अजैविक प्रतिरोधकता]
- (GMO specific benefits)
- Higher resistance against biotic factors like diseases, pests and insects, thereby reducing chemical pesticides requirement. Example, Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria’s Bt toxin gene is inserted into plants to provide resistance to insects without the need for insecticides. examples are Bt cotton, Bt corn, rice, tomato, potato and soyabean etc.[रोग तथा नाशीजीव रोधी]
- It’s difficult to create hybrids from self-pollinating flowers like Mustard, but GM technology makes it possible.
I’ve copied these factors from NCERTs only. No point in further Internet Research and PHD-giri over it. This much content sufficient for descriptive exams.
Criticism and Apprehensions
- Genetic modification of organisms can have unpredictable results when introduced into the ecosystem.
- Such food crops may be unsafe for human and animal consumption.
- They may harm the soil bacteria, bees and other important organisms, thereby affecting entire food web and biodiversity.
- GM crop may eliminate the wild/indigenous species by cross-pollination.
- MNCs are using genetic materials which have been long identified by farmers and indigenous people, without paying them any compensation or share in royalty. So, just like software piracy, movie piracy, most of the GM technology is ‘biopiracy’.
- MNCs introduce terminator gene in their GM seeds. This makes the resultant plant sterile, thereby requiring farmers to repurchase seeds for every cropping season. [‘टर्मिनेटर जीन’ का हिदी इको.सर्वे ने ‘टर्मिनेटर जीन’ ही रखा है.]
- And since GM crops will make wild / indigenous varieties extinct by cross-pollination, so farmer will be at the mercy of these MNCs for the future seeds.
You may google ’crop specific’ criticism that
BT-cotton could have x problem
BT-brinjal could have y problem
GM-mustard could have z problem. Watch my Lecture
But ultimately most of them will boil down to above three category generic points only. So as long as you can manage with the generics, don’t waste time in memorizing specifics for mains.
GM Crops: NITI/Survey stand
- (Origin) In India, the introduction of High Yielding Variety (HYV) and Genetically Modifed (GM) Seeds has been stuck in controversies over decades. Despite their numerous benefits, Indian farmers allowed GM seeds in only one crop i.e. Cotton. [HYV=उच्च उपज देने वाली किस्म ; GMO= आनुवंशिक आधार पर आशोधित किस्मे]
- Economic Survey 2016-17 has suggested following matrix for decision making:
- Allow GM seeds which don’t have terminator Gene or high cost. [उच्च लागत नही होनी चाहिए]
- Allow GM seeds have following properties: 1) Disease and pest resistant 2) Resistant to variation in moisture and soil 3) Longer shelf life 4) Shorter crop duration 5) Nonfood / Tree format crops.
- To prevent MNC monopoly on GM seeds, we’ve to encourage domestic institutions & companies to pursue GM research. (says NITI3YR)
- Besides, we’ve a robust regulatory framework with GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) to oversee safety GM technology. So, mischief is unlikely.
GM Crops Adoption: Conclusion
let’s prepare both type of conclusions:
- Self-sufficiency agriculture is tantamount for India because of 1) SDG ~goal~ of ZERO HUNGER 2) Economic ~goal~ of low food inflation.
- Genetic engineering is useful in increasing crop yields, reducing post-harvest losses and making crops more tolerant of biotic and abiotic stresses.
- Therefore, given the lack of evidence on negative consequences from GM Crops, vs. its potential utility in the aforementioned national ~goals~ and the robust regulatory framework that we have, a positive consideration should be given to the adoption of GM technology in India. (Observe the choice of words- no absolute fanaticism that GM MUST BE INTRODUCED.)
- India is a signatory to Cartagena protocol to protect biodiversity.
- SDG Goal (#2.5) also requires all nations to protect the genetic diversity of plants and animals.
- Given the concerned raised by experts about the yield claims and biosafety of GM technology, such crops should not be introduced without due diligence. (Observe the choice of words- no absolute secularism that GM MUST NOT BE INTRODUCED.)
Agriculture Research: Constrains & Reforms
- Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) is the apex body for Agri-research in India. But ICAR scientists’ salary structures and promotion rules are time-bound and seniority based.
- Therefore, outstanding Indian scientists opt for foreign assignments or MNC jobs where their talent is more appreciated (atleast in financial terms). We’ve to create proper incentive structure to prevent such brain drain. NITI3YR says ICAR has to be augmented on the pattern of IITs and Indian Institutes of Sciences (IIS). [Meaning, higher funding and autonomy in hiring faculties & researchers at market rates, offer commercial services similar to ISRO’s ANTRIX to justify higher pay packages and so forth.]
- Most farmhands are women, but women scientists don’t form even 1/4th of the Indian scientists. This gender imbalance also needs to be addressed, given the greater feminization of agriculture due to male migration from rural families.
- Presently Agriculture research funding is <1% of GDP. We need to increase it.
Upto above points, you can even reuse for medical / IT research related questions! Now let’s get to specific agriculture research problems:
Agriculture research should focus on following angles:
- Environmental impact: if new crop variety promises more yield or better quality, but is also input intensive on water and fertilizer then the agriculture growth will be economic but not sustainable.
- Beyond Cereals: Indian agriculture research has become ‘cereal centric’. We need to focus on pulses, oilseeds, horticulture and animal husbandry as well.
- Elite consumers’ preferences: Sarkaari Scientists mainly focus on improving quantitative yields, with the objective that, “if farmer is able to produce more quantity (of cereals), he can earn more because of MSP!”. But, if they also focused on aroma, taste, appearance, calorie, nutrient, antioxidants etc. from wealthy health-conscious urban/foreign consumers’ point of view, then premium prices can be fetched. Because our goal is 2x farmer income, which doesn’t necessitate 2x production.
- Inflation Targeting: Even if research doesn’t drastically improve the quantitative yield, but improves the shelf life of onions, potatoes, tomatoes etc. then also food inflation can be controlled by reducing seasonal variation in the supply.
- Socio-economic constrains of the farmers in adopting the technology. If hybrid/GM seeds are expensive, small/marginal farmers can’t adopt it. It’ll further expand the rich-poor divide within rural India. On a lighter note, if one progressive farmer adopts new variety, other jealous neighbors might vandalize it. So new varieties have to be vandalism-proof also. Imagine tomatoes so tough, that you need a hammer to squash them, but wait, it’ll run counter to first research angle i.e. elite consumers’ preference!) anyways, I digressed.
Agriculture extension: Introduction
- Definition: Extension service is an informal education process to offer advice, information and training, usually meant for farmers, villagers and women.
- Purpose: Extension services aim to change farmers’ outlook towards their agricultural problems, and villagers’ outlook towards economic and health problems.
- Data / Problem: According to NSSO survey, ~60% of Indian farmers do not get much agricultural technical assistance and know-how from government-institutes. So they rely on progressive farmers, media, and private sellers of seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides- who may not give them unbiased advisory because of their own vested commercial interests.
Usually there are five types of delivery channels for agri-extension services:
- Individual counseling via personal meeting, toll-free Helpline, Letter-FAQ using Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s extension workers. Problem?
- Geographical each, manpower availability. Barely 1 extension worker available per 800-1000 farmers.
- Individual farmer may not dare to become ‘progressive’ because of tomato vandalism problem which I mentioned earlier. therefore, we’ve to do…..
- Group counseling via seminar, workshop, group discussion, field visit. Problem?
- Farmers fear wage loss so need financial motivation e.g. stipend/TA.
- Magazines Kurukshetra and other govt magazines / periodicals. Problem?
- Illiteracy and poverty. then we’ve to use audio-visual methods such as….
- Mass Media via Kisan TV (2014-Budget) and Public Radio broadcast. Problem?
- Marginal farmers may not have instruments to watch them.
- Customized / tailermade advisory / information difficult to deliver. therefore, we’ve to explore….
- E-Technology via E-Krishi (Webportal) ; mKisan (SMS/USSD), Kisan Suvidha App etc. What are the benefits?
- Mass reach possible because more mobiles than toilets; and jio4G effect.
- Tailor-made advisory can be given.
For more on (GS3) E-Technology in Aid of Farmers Watch My Lecture on this Link
At district/field level following entities are responsible for extension services:
- 1974: Kisan Vikas Kendras under ICAR started.
- 1998: Agriculture Technology Management Agencies (ATMAs) under National Agriculture Technology Project started. ICAR supports them as well.
- 2002: Agriclinics by private individuals (usually, agri. Graduates). They receive funding from Agriculture Ministry.
- Modi-raj is ‘app-raj & portal raj’. So, Kisan Suvidha App, mKisan portal etc.
Years are not important, but I’ve given them just to give you a chronological perspective:
- ‘74: KVK started.
- Mid-70s to mid-80s: Phase-II of Green Revolution Started
- ‘76: RRBs started.
So in the 70s, rural / farm centric reforms were prominent, just like GST, Demonetization and “magnificent targets for cleanliness, housing, electricity, farm-income etc. @ 2019 & 2022” are prominent in today’s India.
If you’ve to write an essay on post-independent India’s growth story or political economy, then chronology | clubbing | categorization | critically analysis skills are as important as the memory-recalling power.
Exto: NITI/Survey suggestions:
- To increase the spread of extension services: use ICT & Mobile technology to ensure last mile connectivity. (haa bhai but that is already being done, read the fifth point above!)
- ICAR provides extension service to farmers via its Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK) at district level. But ES16 hints that research, education, and extension should be separated. Perhaps in following manner
- ICAR focus only on research work in Agriculture
- UGC ( or the proposed Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA) should look after higher education in Agriculture
- State government look after extension services and KVKs.
- Use Skill India mission funds to impart agricultural skills.
- Involve local participation of progressive farmers, self-help groups (SHG) and Primary Agricultural Cooperative societies (PACS) and seed/fertilizer traders. (Good thing they did not say NGO. May be afraid of another Srijan scam!)
Related Topic: Precision farming
- Definition? It involves technologies like laser land levellers, self-propelled sprayers, precision seeders and planters, transplanters for rice and vegetable seedlings and multi-crop threshers and harvesters.
- Benefit? Precision farming allow highly efficient farming and resource conservation.
- Problem? But it also requires high skill and large capital.
- Therefore, NITI3YR recommended Government to only create awareness about this technology among farmers, instead of actually financing it.
As such there are 50 dozen types of farming / cropping methods, but above one mentioned in NITI3YR hence had to write here. For more on Agriculture, refer to Rajtanil’s Geography Lecture
- State Agriculture universities are not under ICAR’s regulatory domain. This has led to proliferation of self-financed private colleges without sufficient faculties, proper labs or infrastructure. Now some of them even struggling to fillup the seats (just like Engineering and PTC colleges) and therefore, offering fashion design and other courses!
- ES16 suggested we’ve to re-examine this relation between ICAR & private agri. colleges. In other words,
- either states should get strict with pvt colleges or
- ICAR should have UGC like powers or
- UGC should regulate them.
- There are over 50 agriculture universities in India! Perhaps, some of them require ‘merger‘ similar to public sector bank, to ensure consolidation of funding and manpower for better quality of research output. Even, NITI3YR suggested: Instead of creating more institutions, focus on quality of research and infrastructure in existing bodies. At least two agricultural universities should be given large grants so they can achieve global status.
I think this much content is sufficient for handling most of the 200 words question related to Agriculture research and technology in paper-III. So let’s put it to rest here.
- Agriculture Inputs over.
- Research & Extension over here.
- In the next and last part on agriculture, we’ll see Agriculture -> Output (MSP, PDS etc.) and what ES/NITI/SDG have to suggest on them.