NAGPUR: For the first time in the country, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is preparing a development index for sustainable . The announcement was made by ICAR‘s secretary Chhabilendra Roul during the 42nd foundation day celebration of the National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS & LUP) held in the city on Monday.
Speaking to TOI, Roul said that as a pilot project, the development index will be first prepared for Punjab and . The council‘s institutes like National Institute of Agricultural Economic and Policy Research (NIAP) will be initiating the study which is expected to go on for two years.
“We are starting with these two states as they have similar agro-ecological conditions. Based on the results of pilot experiment, the study will be extended across the country,” said Roul. He added that studies done by state-level agriculture universities will also be incorporated during the study.
The council has identified about 115 indicators to determine the index. Out of them, 17 indicators will be of soil, 15 of water and remaining will comprise ecological, environmental, bio-diversity and socio-economic parameters.
“While some countries have a development index for sustainable agriculture, our agro-ecological system is different and we can‘t rope in all the parameters they have. Discussions are going on with experts to zero down the indicators to a manageable level,” added Roul.
The council hopes that with a development index in place, the government will be better informed about the status of sustainability and would be able to frame better policies for farmers‘ benefits.
Former director of Central Institute of Research (CICR) C D Mayee highlighted the drastic increase in the area where cotton is cultivated. “Earlier, the crop would be cultivated in 80 lakh hectares in the country. Now, the area has gone up to 120 lakh hectares and the main reason behind this is market-controlled farming,” he said.
Former vice-chancellor of Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (RVSKVV), Gwalior, A K Singh stressed on the need of preventing soil degradation.
On the occasion, the bureau dedicated three first-of-their kind mobile applications to the farmers of the country. The three apps included a soil health card, a potential zone mapper and a land resource inventory of Goa. It also launched a digital map for Yavatmal, which revealed that 67% of the cultivable farming area in Yavatmal is suitable for growing .
“The bureau will be preparing similar maps for other districts too,” said Surendra Kumar Singh, director of NBSS & LUP.
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