Latest News
PM to launch ‘Kisan Suryoday Yojana’ for farmers in Gujarat tomorrow ...

Interviews



 
  • Q. Please tell us about the recent R&D efforts at CAZRI in terms of sustainable agriculture system within arid ecosystem?

    A. The Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), a constituent of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), is exclusively mandated to address all subjects and concerns that are affecting farming in arid regions of country. CAZRI is the only institute in our country addressing a myriad of inter-connected issues like assessment and management of natural resources; devising sustainable farming systems; utilizing agro-biodiversity; managing livestock and grasslands; augmenting farmers’ income; promoting renewable energy in farming and social life; and building capacity of stakeholders in the arid production environment in an all-inclusive way.
  • Q. What is the role of technology in combating challenges faced by farmers in dry regions?

    A. The arid regions are full of challenges but fortunately there are technological solutions, to a great extent, to these challenges. Our Institute has followed a multidisciplinary approach to address the challenges of arid agriculture in an inclusive way. During the last six decades of its functioning, the Institute carried out systematic research on understanding the process of desertification; managing the regions’ natural resources including land, water, soils, vegetation, livestock; developing suitable and sustainable cropping/ farming systems; improving field crops, grasses, shrubs, trees and horticultural crops; managing livestock and rangelands; and harnessing solar energy for use in agriculture and society. Several need-based and cost-effective technologies have been developed and transferred to farmers and other stakeholders to enhance production per unit of land and to augment livelihood security. Also, CAZRI is a major destination for capacity building of farmers and extension personnel. Through its outreach programmes, the Institute remains in direct touch with farmers, state government officials, NGOs and other stake-holders to upscale the technologies.
  • Q. Please tell us about integrated farming system and its importance in arid zones?

    A. Integrated Farming System is a sustainable way of production system in which several components of farming are undertaken together by farmers in such a way that each individual component of farming supplements other component rather than competing for resources. As we all know that there is very low and highly erratic rainfall in arid regions and the native sandy soils are very low in fertility, the farming is inherently very risky. The cultivation/rearing of a single crop or commodity is risky and is always associated with high probability of failure. To minimize such prevalent risk, appropriate combinations of field crops, grasses, shrubs, trees, horticultural crops, and livestock impart greater stability to production system as compared to crops alone and simultaneously fulfil the requirement of food, fodder, fruits and fuel wood. Several combinations of crops, agroforestry, livestock, grasses and trees have been tested to enhance land productivity, to have better resource utilization, to augment farmers income and to provide employment throughout year. The Institute has developed several integrated farming system models under rainfed conditions.
  • Q. How do you look at the future of farmers in arid zones? What are the challenges and possible opportunities?

    A. About 31.7 million ha area of India comes under hot arid zone and ~7 million ha area is under cold arid zone. Rajasthan accounts for 62% of hot arid zone of India followed by Gujarat (19.6%), Punjab (4.6%) and Haryana (4%). The Indian arid zone is one of the most populated arid regions of the world and the fragile ecosystem is burdened with high human and livestock pressure. Due to poor resource base of farmers and high risk of crop failure, mostly low input subsistence rainfed farming had been practiced in the past for a long time in hot arid region, but the situation started changing since mid-eighties in pockets where irrigation became available through canals or tube wells. Still ~60% area is rainfed in arid Rajasthan. Tube-wells cover about 61% of irrigated area and over-exploitation of groundwater is leading to decline in groundwater level. Between 2006-07 and 2016-17 net-sown area in western Rajasthan increased by 10.4%, while there was decline in area under permanent pasture and grazing lands by 3%), fallow lands by 16.3%) and culturable wastelands by 18.2%). The trend is likely to continue in near future and would add to existing biotic pressure on arid lands.
  • Q. Is there any link between locust swarm attacks and arid areas? If yes, then how is CAZRI working towards mitigating the causes?

    A. There are different types of locusts. What you are probably referring to is the Desert Locust. The desert locust in a transboundary pest and its breeding and multiplication require sandy soils with moisture and tropical and sub-tropical climate. Due to this reason, it is typically found in the desert regions of Africa and Asia where sandy soils are in abundance and temperature are largely moderate. Its movement starts from Africa where it breeds in winter, then it moves central Asia (where it breeds in spring), Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan (where is breeds in summer) and finally enters India through Indo-Pak Border (largely through Jaisalmer). So you can say that the arid region in north-western is the entry point of desert locust in India. Looking to the nature of this serious pest, the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations is the core agency to track its movement across continents. On the basis of its severity of risk and its movement pattern, the information is shared with all countries that fall in the route of desert locus. Advisories and warnings are issued very regularly throughout the year by FAO. So it’s a joint responsibility of all countries to control the insect before it starts breeding.
  • Q. What do you think is the key to sustainable agriculture in arid or semi-arid areas?

    A. Future of sustainable agriculture in arid zone would be heavily guided by greater role of technological options along with appropriate policies. Management of limited water is the most important area that needs urgent attention in arid zone. Harvesting of run-off water with proper use and adoption of modern methods of irrigation can be a game changer. New field and horticultural crops needing less water needs to be promoted. The cultivation of water guzzling crops like groundnut, rice and castor needs strong discouragement both at policy and community levels. Livestock is an integral part of farming in arid regions but this is one area where adoption of new knowledge and technologies has been a greatest challenge. Scientific management of grassland resources, as a part of common property resource, of communities is the need of hour to support very high existing population of livestock. Adoption of proper housing and supply of appropriate balanced feed and fodder for small ruminants like goat and sheep have a great potential to enhance the profitability of farming. Production technology of arid crops and fruits has been studied well but their value chain has not been adequately developed.
By Karuna Dhoundiyal
info@indiagri.in
Interviews

Policies are responsible for poverty of farmers, India: Anil Ghanwat

27 Aug 2020

Mr Anil Ghanwat
President, Shetkari Sanghatana
 

Indroduction
Name : Mr Anil Ghanwat

Designation : President, Shetkari Sanghatana

More
Indroduction
Name : Dr Bindu R. Pillai

Designation : Acting Director and Head, Aquaculture Production and Environment Division, ICAR-Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture

More
Indroduction
Name : Dr O.P. Yadav

Designation : Director, ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur

More
Indroduction
Name : Ravishankar C.N.

Designation : Director, Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (ICAR-CIFT)

More
Indroduction
Name : Shubh Swain

Designation : Asst Director, Tata Cornell Institute, TARINA

More

EDITOR'S NOTE

13 Jul 2020

Uniting India's farmers: FPOs will strengthen the rural economy

The proposed creation of ten thousand new Farmers’ Producer Organizations (FPOs) until 2023-24 by the government is a big step in the right direction. The empowerment of farmers in a country where 86 perce