Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has undertaken several efforts to help crores of farmers across the country to overcome the problems arising due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the nationwide lockdown. Agriculture Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar recently reviewed activities of the ICAR. According to sources from Agriculture Dept. sowing of Summer Crops has progressed satisfactorily despite the difficulties experienced due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown effective since 24th March midnight.
During the review meeting, ICAR Director General Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra informed that the ICAR has issued national and state-specific advisory for farmers, widely communicated through digital platforms adequately informing the farmers about the exemptions granted to farming related activities during lockdown and important agricultural operations to be carried out following all precautions.
Statistics compiled by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare as on 10th April, 2020 reveal that the total area under the Summer Crops (including Rice, Pulses, Coarse Cereals and Oil Seeds) cultivation has jumped significantly, registering 11.64 lakh hectare increase over last year.
The main driver of this growth in cultivable area is Rice. About 32.58 lakh ha area coverage under Summer Rice has been reported compared to 23.81 lakh ha during the corresponding period of last year. The area has been reported mainly from the States of West Bengal (11.25 lakh ha), Telangana (7.45 lakh ha), Odisha (3.13 lakh ha), Assam (2.73 lakh ha) etc.
As regards Pulses, about 3.97 lakh ha area coverage has been reported compared to 3.01 lakh ha during the corresponding period of last year. Among Coarse cereals, about 5.54 lakh ha area coverage has been reported compared to 4.33 lakh ha during the corresponding period of last year.
While among Oil seeds, about 6.66 lakh ha Sown area has been reported compared to 5.97 lakh ha during the corresponding period of last year. The area has been reported mainly from the States of West Bengal (1.33 lakh ha), Karnataka (1.30 lakh ha), Gujarat (1.09 lakh ha) etc.
According to ICAR, more than 5.48 crore farmers have already been reached through the issue of 1,126 advisories across the states by Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) through mKisan portal. Dissemination of advisory was also made through 4893 KVK WhatsApp groups covering 5.75 lakh farmers and through other digital platforms reaching 8.06 lakh farmers. Messages were disseminated through broadcast of 193 radio talks and 57 TV programmes also.
Research institutes used ICT tools including Expert Systems and Mobile Apps, and provided advisories on appropriate crop management technologies in wheat, rice, maize, pulses, millets, oilseeds, sugarcane, fibre crops, mango, citrus, banana, pomegranate, grapes, litchi, spices, flowers, vegetables, melons and plantation crops such as coconut, arecanut, cocoa and tuber crops. Advisories have been extended to entrepreneurs, private firms and state governments on marketing of flower, vegetables and fruit produce.
Fisheries Research Institutes under ICAR prepared information, education and communication (IEC) materials in fisheries production for dissemination to various stakeholders engaged in fisheries. Dairy, Livestock and Poultry research institutes of ICAR are creating awareness regarding feeding, breeding and health care of animals as well as minimum processing of milk, eggs and chicken for boosting immunity to fight corona virus. (Courtesy- PIB).