DAINIK NATION BUREAU
The Uttarakhand Governor Dr KK Paul said today that for a progressive country, agricultural and food security must be given top priority. In order to strengthen the economy of Uttarakhand, hill agriculture must be focused upon. He expressed these views while addressing at the 31st convocation of GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar. There was a vast potential for Agri-Tourism in Uttarakhand if medicinal and aromatic plants were grown on a cluster basis. Himalayan Hills are known for medicinal and aromatic plants and cultivation of these crops on large scale by a cluster of farmers can turn out to be a boon for them and the Uttarakhand State.
Congratulating the recipients of the degrees, the Governor said that the G.B.Pant university had always provided excellent services to the nation and had played an important role in making the country self-dependent in food security. “Having made India usher in an era of Green Revolution, this university needs to ensure nutritional security of the country. A food sovereign nation is a free nation in the true sense of the word”, he said.
The Mahatma Gandhi always said that India lives in its villages, which by and large is, still true. Materialistic progress has no future without agriculture. “One bad monsoon, one poor crop –is alarming”.
He said that like in most of India, agriculture is one of the most significant sectors of the economy in Uttarakhand. It is practiced by a majority of people, especially the women. “The people of the hills practice mixed cropping, while the farmers of the plains in a given season mostly cultivate a single crop. The typical feature of hill farming is the scattered and fragmented land holdings that too with an average land holding of around 0.98 hectare.”
The major concern is the low productivity of crops in hills. The farmers face problems of storage, supply chain, minimum support price and lack of on farm processing facilities. “The low yield of, agricultural crops, fodder, forest produce, livestock coupled with shortage of feed and fodder, sluggish growth rates are the critical factors of agrarian hill economy adversely affecting household food security. The university must look into these aspects.”
An amazing diversity of ecological niches favourable for a distinctive variety of foods – including tea, off-season vegetables, fruits and vegetable seed production, etc – places the hill areas in comparative advantage.
“Also, protection, regeneration, conservation and expansion of natural forests in the region will enormously enhance the performance of regional agriculture and ensure conservation of the soil, water and biodiversity,” he said.
The university should work on mapping of fruits, vegetables, flowers and other perishable agri-commodities growing in clusters to enable the processing units to ensure good quality raw material, reduce procurement cost and increase the profitability in long run on sustainable basis “Exploration, utilization and commercialization of underutilized indigenous fruit, flower and vegetable crops would help greatly”.
He said that the university must work upon a strategy for the future to find out alternatives to the stubble burning of crops by farmers which is causing a lot of air pollution.
Congratulating the students, Agriculture Minsiter Subodh Uniyal said that the state government was going to bring out an act for organic farming so that farmers could get better returns for various products. The university should set up a centre for research and development where aspects like organic farming, value enhancement for products for farmers could be researched upon.
VC Prof AK Misra welcomed all guests and students and made a presentation of the teaching, research and communication activities of the university over the last one year.
Governor/Chancellor Dr Paul awarded degrees to 1261 students. 41 students were given various medals out of which 14 received VC’s Gold Medal, 15 received silver medals and 12 received VC’s bronze medals.
Kavita Bisht won the Chancellors’ Gold Medal award from governor.
Six students were given gold medals – Pooranchand Anand Adhlakha gold medal, Saraswati Panda Gold medal, Nagamma Shantabai award, Dr Ram Shiromani Tiwari award and Chaudhary Charan Singh memorial prize ( given to 2 students).