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Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday called for increasing the expenditure on research and development (R&D) for agriculture.

Addressing a programme at ICAR – National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) in Hyderabad, he also stressed on enhancing the quality and capacity of agricultural research in the country to achieve substantial gains in agri-productivity in the long term.

Noting that no advanced country can improve agri productivity without extension activities, Naidu suggested increasing the R&D expenditure, which he said is “less than one percent of our agricultural GDP".

The Vice President also asked agricultural researchers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and scientists to make agriculture climate-resilient, profitable and sustainable for farmers and also to ensure nutritional security.

He was of the view that agricultural universities must consider it their duty to not only develop new techniques and methods of sustainable production, but also to take these developments to the last farmer in every part of the country.

He called upon agricultural universities to encourage students to visit villages and know the actual farm issues firsthand. Naidu also noted that emerging challenges like reducing availability of water, climate change, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, new pests and diseases, fragmentation of farms, among other issues, would make the task of agricultural research even more critical in the coming years.

To tackle these challenges, he called for a “paradigm shift in our research approach" and aim for excellence in technological innovation, human resources, and extension services. He also suggested investing in critical areas such as genomics, molecular breeding, and nanotechnology, among other areas.

Emphasising on the importance of creating a skilled manpower in secondary and tertiary agriculture to make it profitable, he said that trained agri-business graduates can work towards making agriculture more into an organised sector and become job providers instead of job seekers.

The Vice President observed that there is a pressing need to encourage farmers to take up allied activities to diversify the risk of crop failure.

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