Institutional Development Priorities of the NAIP
At NAIP, we are aware of the growing importance of access to information in the global competitive economy. Competitiveness and access to information are of greater relevance to poor-population groups to prevent them from further marginalization. The quantum of new information and the rapid rate at which the existing knowledge is becoming obsolete may pose a threat to the traditional and indigenous knowledge of our country.
Thus, the NAIP shall strive for striking a balance between utilization of the existing/ indigenous knowledge, creation of new knowledge and protection of useful traditional knowledge through documentation, validation, dissemination and utilization.
India's agricultural sector is composed of a large number of small individual entrepreneurs. Farmers are becoming increasingly dependent on other entrepreneurs for services, inputs, implements, marketing and processing. The capacity of these large numbers of entities to adjust to the rapid changes in the institutional, economic and political environments, and inter-collaborations is highly crucial for the success of agricultural development.
Capacity building and strengthening of partnerships will be major elements in all the Components of the NAIP. Capacity building applies to individual farmers, farmers' groups/ organizations, and agrarian institutions and businesses, which support them. Partnerships refer to collaborations among public sector institutions, farmers' organizations, self-help groups, NGOs and the private sector.
The NAIP has a built-in awareness that women farmers, whose number and contributions are significant in the Indian agriculture, have to be increasingly involved in the development process.
Participatory mode of technology development, learning and action taking shall be the essential ingredients for capacity building and project management in the NAIP.
With the increasing importance of marketing in the Indian agriculture, enhancing the business skills of agricultural research institutions assumes high significance. There is a need to develop business development units/ groups as models in potential institutions for business planning, and market development for commercialization of agro-technologies.
Research & Development Priorities of the NAIP
The NAIP will not predefine the specific research projects that it wishes to pursue under the Components 2, 3 and 4, but will allow the agenda to evolve from the bottom through a competitive process that will guide the resource allocation criteria.
The broad thrust areas mentioned below are the national and sectoral-level thrusts, as reflected in the National Agricultural Policy and the Tenth Five-Year Plan of India (2002-07), including its Mid-Term Appraisal Report, recommendations of the National Commission of Farmers and several consultations held with a wide array of stakeholders.
1. Agricultural Diversification
For making the Indian agriculture profitable, sustainable and competitive, we target a multi-faceted approach with greater appreciation for various site-specific needs and compulsions of the farming systems, agro-climatic conditions, endowments of land and water resources, rural infrastructure, and the market demand both within and outside the country. Facilitating services and support systems, covering, credit, extension, marketing, prices, etc. are critical for successful diversification. This would require efficient field operations/ hatchery management, facilitating and improving processing, post-harvesting management, marketing, quality assurance and strengthening of infrastructure for rapid multiplication of disease-free planting material. On-farm experimentation would be accorded high priority for testing and disseminating technologies suitable for increasing food, feed, fodder and fuel (rural energy) security, and improving the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers.
2. Livestock and Fisheries Production
Emerging as "sunrise sectors". Livestock in India is largely owned by small and marginal farmers and landless people in rural areas, especially in the dry land areas. So this sector's rapid growth provides direct benefits to the poorer households. Further, the contribution of women in these sectors is substantial. Focused attention on genetic up gradation, nutrition, management, disease surveillance and control, production of feeds, diagnostic kits and vaccines, post-harvest handling and processing and marketing of livestock and aquaculture produce, by-produce and wastes will certainly bring prosperity to poor and gains to the country.
Studies on monitoring and control of trans-boundary livestock diseases have important implications for human health, international trade and compliance with hygiene and sanitary requirements of the importing country.
3. Genetic Resources and Bio-prospecting
Regular improvements in germplasm (plants and animals, including fish and microbes) and nutritional value of staple foods, besides management of diseases and pests of crops and livestock need to continually attempted.
Genetic resources (plant, animal and microbial) constitute one of the most important and invaluable natural resources and their proper documentation and effective utilization is an important endeavour. The importance of undertaking such an activity with the help of local communities, NGOs, etc. cannot be overemphasized.
Bio-prospecting will have to lay the foundation for effective mining and targeting the transfer of genes for specific traits. The vast microbial gene pool has to be explored and utilized for crop and animal improvement.
This is capital- and knowledge-intensive sector, but at the same time warrants strong public-public and public-private partnerships. Interactions between research institutions and the industry need to be strengthened for realizing the full potential of frontier sciences.
4. Natural Resource Management
In view of the increasing water scarcity and the growing competition for water-use in agriculture, household and industry, efficient and sustainable management of water resources, with focus on watersheds and local-level community management is needed. Through its Consortia approach, the NAIP will aim to combine short- and possibly long-term economic benefits (farmers' interests) with long-term environmental concerns (public interest) and favorable institutional development.
Soil health has been affected adversely owing to depletion of organic carbon, imbalanced use of nutrients, micronutrient deficiency, etc. IPNM approach with appropriate policies, precision agriculture, etc. may be explored to tackle the inadequate replenishment of nutrients to the soil.
Global warming is becoming an important issue for sustainable agriculture. Understanding its effects and developing adaptation and mitigation strategies should receive attention.
Selected areas having competitive advantage and technologies that support modern organic farming may be generated/ strengthened. This research will not only contribute to enhanced nutritional and environmental security but also improve export prospects of agri-products.
5. Integrated Pest Management
Pesticides are often not accessible to small-scale farmers and skill and knowledge in the sound use of pesticides is lacking. Pesticide-misuse is therefore a significant health and economic hazard to producers, consumers and the environment. The evolution of new races, pathotypes, strains and biotypes of the pathogens and insect-pests worsens the scenario further. In this context, to manage such biotic stresses, efficient and effective integrated approaches are required. Consortia within the NAIP may take up elaboration and validation of IPM policies and practices for the ecologically-tolerable and economically-sustainable use of pesticides.
6. Value-addition and Post-harvest Processing
Value-addition to and post-harvest processing of agri-produce is an area of immense significance to meet the global competition. At present, only 7% of the output of the agricultural sector is provided value-addition and 2% of the volume of perishables is processed. In view of the small and scattered farm holdings and a majority of farmers being resource-poor, strengthening of co-operatives, self-help groups, and contract farming assumes significance. Processing technologies need to follow the changing consumption patterns. Establishing local storage and small-scale processing capacity to minimize post-harvest losses is important.
7. Research on Policy Analysis and Market Intelligence
In the scenario of globalization and emergence of increasingly competitive, fast-changing and quality-concious markets the importance of market intelligence to predict the trends and develop models for forecasts cannot be overemphasized. Integration of markets within the country and with world markets, supported by appropriate policies, needs to be seriously considered.