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In mid-sixties, the agricultural research took a center-stage in
ushering in what is universally acclaimed as Green
Revolution – envied by most countries but seldom replicated. After decades of deprivation and negative forecasts, Indian agriculture gained more confidence in increasing productivity and production which resulted in other revolutions viz., white (milk), yellow (oil), blue (fish), golden (horticultural). As a result of research led revolutions, today India has emerged as the second largest producer of food materials in world after China. But there are many areas of concerns like feeding more than 1.1 billion people from same cultivable land (and in fact reducing due to its conversion into real estate etc), requiring agriculture becoming profitable but also making than before etc. farmers / growers/ fishermen economically better off
The country has lately been making great strides in economic field and emerged as one of leading economies of the world. While this looks very good, the growth rate and contributions to GDP by the agricultural sector has been going down. Presently, its growth rate is around 2.6 per cent and contribution to GDP is 17.47 per cent and going down. The spectre of large pulse and oilseed import(totaling more Rs.25,000 cr per year) is looming large ,forcing the top planners to once again focus on agriculture. A loan waiver of Rs.71,000 cr was announced by the Government of India. While its impact is beingwatched carefully , the next step is to save them from another debt trap(Swaminathan,2008). The responsibility of developing and transferring technologies for doubling food production by 2020 is mainly on agricultural research. The challenge to our food security has never been severer. Necessary steps need to be taken before it becomes too late , too little. Food security is closely related to national security. If there is a huge food deficit, it cannot be met by import.
National Agricultural Research System(NARS)
The NARS, which had hitherto largely included the ICAR Institutes and State Agricultural Universities, is itself undergoing a transformation. And to-day ,the NARS also encompasses private sector,trade, NGOs, other public/ private funded institutions which are involved in agricultural research. The private sector is now investing heavily in agricultural sector and many corporate and MNCs are in fray(seed, chemical, fertilizers, retailing etc). In this process of expanding family, paradigms in agriculture are bound to shift quite fast.
2. PARADIGM SHIFTS IN AGRICULTURE OLD 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Input and experience 1. based Production by large 2. masses(52 % population) Low technology levels 3. No/low concern for quality 4. A way of life, little option but to profess agriculture Production of all crops and commodities 5. 6.
NEW Output per unit input based, outcome focused Mass production by fewer people(25 –30 per cent) Intermediate and high technology levels High concern for quality Profit making venture, varied options Demand based customized production, Energy use intensive,efficient
Low energy, inefficient use 7. Heavy PH losses,low 8. processing and value addition, poor market support
Reduced PH losses, high processing and value addition, better market support
3. SCENARIOS IN AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT 3.1 Scenario-I i) Business as usual : agricultural development mainly driven by market forces, guided by public policy ii) Competitive, open and integrated global market as driving force for change iii) Market driven growth is generally accompanied by rising demand for quality food, growing inequalities between regions, urban-rural divide and increasing gap between the resource rich and resource poor. It may also lead to acquiring of land by resource rich and thus increasing farm size to gain advantage of scale making small holders in-competitive.
3.2 Scenario – II
• Knowledge and innovation driven transition to sustainable agricultural development • It seeks to galvanize rapid agricultural development and growth with attendant changes in rural livelihood and environmental sustainability through technological innovations(evolution,evaluation and adoption) • It reaches the un-reached directly, without extension
intermediaries, direct scientist- farmer- consumer linkage • It encourages participation of all stakeholders and the development is all inclusive, benefits percolating to a large number, taking care of gender, equity and environment
• It is based on premise of a co-evolution of technological advancement, structural adjustments and economic transformation resulting from application of knowledge in production – post production activities and social adjustments • It involves generation innovations Partnership) an innovation system where the ,application and transmission of work in partnership mode(PPP
• It is farmer- centric rather than agriculture- centric approach, more profit to farmers/growers • It builds capabilities at individual, organizational and sectoral levels. • It requires changes in governance structure that reflects co-evolutionary dynamics of technology and institutions(not easy to achieve, though !).
3.3 Changing process of knowledge generation and use
From Knowledge elite Paper used to store and share knowledge Research as the key tool to generate knowledge Linear model of research, knowledge adaptation, use of technology To Knowledge society Digital media and web used to store and share knowledge Research and consultation to generate knowledge Interactive model, innovations arise from a learning based process that combines problems’ identification and knowledge generation
Table - 1 : Key features of the research management and technology promotion approach, conventional and innovation agricultural research arrangements Institutional features Conventional agricultural research arrangements Scientific Narrow, hierarchical Scientists from public agencies other Innovation task networks
Guiding agenda Relationships involved Partners
Developmental Diverse, consultative Scientists, entrepreneurs, and development workers from the public and private sectors, NGOs Coalitions of interest. Determined by the nature of task, national institutional context and skills, and resource available Flexible. Determined by the nature of task, national institutional context and skills, and resource available.
Selection of partners
Predetermined by institutional roles defined by the arrangement of the research system Fixed. Predetermined by institutional roles defined by the arrangement of the research system
Role of partners
Conventional agricultural research arrangements Fixed at beginning of project Fixed by institutional norms of the research system Technical / scientific In scientific terms to other scientists through res. papers, patents etc. Other agencies dedicated to extension and technology promotion Trained scientists and research infrastructure
Innovation task networks
Work plan and activities Mandate for research/ task approach adopted Knowledge produced Indicators of performance
Flexible, iterative,course corrections Negotiated through coalitions of interest Technical / scientific and institutional In development terms to donors. In terms of fulfilling role in task network to other partners NARS Scientists and their partners in task networks
Responsibility for achieving impact
Collective capacity of task network, social capital, partnership skills
NATURE OF INNOVATION AND INNOVATION PRACTICES IN AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH
• Research is an important component – but not always central component of innovation. Whole package, not the part of package should be our concern. • In the contemporary competitiveness depends innovation. agriculture sector, on collaboration for
• Social and environmental sustainability are integral to economic success and must be reflected in interventions. • Market is not sufficient to promote interaction – the public sector has a role to play. Reaching the unreached is largely public sector responsibility
• Interventions are essential for building capacity and fostering the learning to enable a sector to respond to continuous competitive challenges both from within and without. • Organization of rural stakeholders is a central development concept. It is a common theme in innovation system development and in numerous agricultural and rural development efforts. • Actors that are critical for coordinating innovation systems at the sector level are either overlooked or missing. Strength of a chain is equal to the strength of its weakest link. Chains with weak links break easily. • A wide set of attitudes and practices must be cultivated to foster a culture of innovation. • Enabling environment is a key component of innovation capacity.
5. CHARACTERISTICS OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH ORGANIZATIONS
Resources & Planning Personnel Funds Infrastructure Research Strategy, goals Research Operations Research Testing / adaptation Reporting Dissemination Outputs Knowledge Technology Procedures Publications Services Users Farmers Extension system NGOs Academia Consumers Outcomes Increased production Cost reduction Profit Achievement of objectives
Operations’ Monitoring & Feedback Output Assessment & Feedback Outcome Assessment & Feedback
(Source : Warren Peterson, 1998. Assessing Organizational Performance : Indicators and Procedures – Agricultural Research Organizations : The Assessment and Improvement of Performance. Discussion Paper, ISNAR, The Hague, Netherlands, July)
If viewed as a production system, agricultural research organizations have certain basic features. With differing structures and organizational process, they use resource as inputs (personnel, funds and infrastructure) in research operations (research, testing, reporting, and disseminating results) that generate various types of outputs (knowledge, technology, procedures and publications), users' attempt to transform the outputs into positive outcomes (increased production, cost reduction and profit) and impact. In this sequence of events, performance assessment and feedback mechanisms are required at different levels to ensure that research organizations use their resources efficiently and produce relevant and useful/high impact outputs.
Performance of public sector research organizations are influenced by certain special characteristics, as under: • As partners in the overall development efforts, these reflect the national goals and objectives; • Have multiple social and economic objectives; • Operate in a dynamic policy and funding environment; • Due to the mutatis mutandis adoption of finance/ service rules, have very little flexibility either to suitably reward better performance or to punish nonperformance; • Difficulty in attributing positive outcomes to organizational efforts due to the activities of multiple institutional actors; and • Have more diverse accountability requirements.
6.RESEARCH MANAGEMENT ISSUES 6.1 What is being looked forward ?
* A learning, forward looking organization • An inspiring and caring leadership which listens, inspires and guides • Good working conditions where the management tries to provide and maintain good facilities and environment for work • An institution with its goals spelled and in unambiguous terms an institution having a focused, rigorously debated program of work • A responsive system in place that seeks to pursue human resource development as one of its major missions and thereby provides working environment and career advancement opportunities that bring out the best from a researcher.
Journey and destination both are important, a journey without destination is a waste and destination cannot be arrived at with an aimless journey. Both destination and road map for journey should be selected with due deliberation. The individual interest should subordinate to that of the institution.
Available research management options
• Public-private-people(PPP) partnership for generating and sharing the research benefit and monetary returns. • Prioritizing researches depending upon resources available. There is no point in attempting all and succeeding in none. Priorities based on consultation and analysis. • Integrated resource management including outsourcing, ensuring best material and human resource • From inter-disciplinary to inter-sector research for looking beyond a sector, breaking man-made barriers. For example, biotechnology encompassing crops-fish-livestock. The gene flow has no barriers. • Scientists should be thinkers and planners.Leave routine matters to technicians. High impact, time bound research
• Focus on largely missing basic and anticipatory research through active collaboration with reputed public/private institutions within and outside India. • A strong and functioning monitoring mechanism with well defined responsibility and accountability for all. • Discouraging piece meal / open ended research . Emphasis on output quality, recognition by peers, quantifiable outcome, wider impact and encouraging publications only in highly rated journals, not in proceedings of conferences, symposia etc. • Increased use of precision farming with use of GIS, GPS and other tools. • Generation and integration of databases on soil, crop, livestock, fish, catchments / command areas,socio-economic situations, ITK etc . • Post-production management for saving scarce resources and timely operations, improving quality, longer shelf life, value addition, higher returns. • Reduction in cost of production and reducing/eliminating losses for increasing profitability in crop, livestock and fish. • Value chain management
Identification of research priorities (indicative)
* Low in external inputs sustainable agriculture(India has 16
percent population,but only 2.4 percent land and 4.3 percent of water of world)
• Agri- horti- forestry models for degraded /waste lands for crop and animal husbandry • Agro-eco region suitable farming system with different suitable crop varieties and species of livestock and fish • Integrated farming systems for different agro-eco regions, efficient use of resources • Development / selection of suitable varieties better storage life, higher quality for processing,
• Medicinal and aromatic plant production , processing and storage • Precision farming for high sustainable productivity • Surface covered cultivation
•Integrated weed/pest/disease management with emphasis on bio-chemicals •Organic farming and processing for high value crops, initially •Integrated nutrient management with emphasis on bio-fertilizers •Biotechnology : structural and functional genomics to develop plant/animal/fish with pest / disease resistance and quality attributes, use of nano-tecnology in agriculture and information and communication technology for knowledge enhancement and technology absorption •Effect of climate change on crops, livestock, fish and microbial productivity, • carbon trading •Enhancement in input use efficiency •Evolution of productive and processable varieties , productive breeds •Development of management practices suitable for biotic and abiotic stress conditions •Intellectual property management including ITK, commercialization of technologies •Post-harvest processing, value addition and by product utilization in crops and commodities. •Disaster prevention, assessment and management. •Comfortable Structures/ sheds/shelters for livestock, poultry and fish culture ponds
7. EPILOGUE Agriculture is passing through a critical phase, probably a losing race against time. It has to grow @ 4 percent to sustain economic growth of 9 percent. The problems of today cannot be resolved by tools of yesterday. Research is basically an enabling exercise taking recourse to different tools to solve the mysteries and problems on one hand and improving the efficiencies of present systems/practices on the other. Public funded agricultural research is saddled with resource(human, material) crunch, tougher competition from private sector and global challenge. Obviously, the strategies are due for a revisit and review. The agriculture is facing technology deficit, the ICAR has to remove this deficit most quickly and take it to users most effectively.
The NARS will have to take a closer look at the programmes and projects, deciding whether to take up everything or take up work selectively which others not willing/being able to take up through priority setting, closely looking at resources and efficient monitoring . And these have to be essentially the cutting edge researches with high impact and futuristic implications. The other role the NARS will have to play is of knowledge generator and manager so that the un-reached could be reached quickly. The suitable strategies should be worked out and implemented so that food security of the nation is assured. The ICAR-SAUs will have to sustain their role as Research Leader. The country never needed the researchers more. Let us come up to the expectations of the country. This is the best opportunity India has to emerge as food basket of the world.
The onus is largely on us scientists, so be prepared to play our role well. The country cannot survive without a resurgent agriculture. If agriculture fails, what succeeds ? Agriculture should not wait.