An Overview of the Section on Agriculture

The Agriculture Section of the Congress had two major conferences. The first one on "Alternatives to Chemicals in Traditional Agriculture" consisted of four sessions and the topics discussed were as follows

1. Use of Plant Products in Pest Control.

2. Pest and Disease management in Vrkshayurved : Indian Plant Science.

3. Biological Control T Traditional Vs Modem Methods: Technology Blending.

4. Use of Traditional Technologies in Integrated Pest Management.

The Key note address for this conference was delivered by Prof. S.Jayaraj, Former Vice-chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. This conference was inaugurated on 29th November. A Newsletter - Pesticides Post was also released on that occasion. About sixteen papers were presented in this meeting.

The second conference on" Traditional Agriculture - Potential and Prospects" discussed the following themes:

1. Breeding Technologies

2. Traditional Dairying practices

3. Traditional Veterinary practices

4. Traditional Disaster Management Techniques

5. Traditional Meteorology

6. Bio-diversity

7. Traditional Fisheries.

Dr. Y.P. Singh of 1ARI delivered the keynote address for this session which was presided over by the well known Rice Scientist Dr.Richharia. Dr.Y.P. Singh remarked that this congress was a landmark in the history of Traditional Indian Agriculture. Nearly forty papers were presented during this session.

On 29th November Prof. Anil Gupta of IIM, Ahmedabad delivered the plenary lecture.


Several exhibitions were put up

  1. Vrkshayurveda: - An Introduction to Indian Plant Science. The Science of Vrkshayurveda was depicted in the form of posters and consisted of nearly two hundred posters. This exhibition depicted various Sowing Practices, Seed Preparation Techniques, Plant Protection, Pest and Disease Management Techniques, Methods of Rice-Cultivation, Concepts of morphology and physiology of Indian Plant Science, Nomenclature and Taxonomy, Plant Nutrition and Bio-diversity.

  2. Bio-diversity of the Rice varieties of the Konkan region and Kerala was displayed in
    an exhibition giving details about the varieties.

  3. Dry Land Agriculture Practice as seen in .the tribal villages Tamil Nadu from Javadi
    Hills was depicted.

  4. The exhibition on farmers' wisdom and current innovations in the field was put up.

  5. Different audio-visuals were screened on; different topics like farmer’s innovations, the Impact on Traditional Fisheries etc.

  6. An Annotated Bibliography on Traditional Indian Agriculture by K.Vijayalakshmi was released for this occasion.

  7. A draft of the monograph on Dry Land Agriculture was brought out on this occasion.

  8. Participants included Farmers, Agricultural Scientists, Planners, Administrators, NGOs and Extension Workers. About one hundred of the participants were farmers.

Recommendations of the Agriculture Section

  1. Traditional technology is

    a. Natural resource oriented
    b. Location specific and it can be as per farming situation.
    c. Best for soil health and moisture conservation
    d. Takes care of eco-balance and alternate use of land.
    e. Is proving productive and remunerative
    f. Land - livestock - aquaculture based systems can be better developed through traditional technologies.
    g. Present system of passing on the recommendations to the farmers through
    Government extension machinery takes a long time. NGOs can also be oriented:
    h. Extension - subsidy and target oriented approach may not be useful; it has proved
    to be detrimental to development.
    i. Farmers should be made to prepare bankable projects. It is possible under organic farming.

  2. Farmers should spread the message of their success through traditional farming to the immediate neighborhood be it agronomy, plant protection or planting material.

  3. a) Scientists should verify and document traditional wisdom and say whether they
    are workable or not.
    b) Students and young faculty should be more exposed to the traditional farming.
    c) Extension should be renamed as Exchange of information; NGOs should also have an appreciable and respectable role to play.

  4. The Congress recognized the harmful effects of indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides in agriculture and emphasized the need for using alternatives in the context of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The national policy on implementing IPM should be vigorously followed in all cropping systems.

  5. Over ages the farmers have been adopting many non-chemical methods of pest management and their wisdom in Traditional Agriculture is very significant. Many innovative farmers are continuously evolving better methods of pest management. Much of this is neither scientifically investigated to find out the plausible reasons for their effectiveness nor documented. The scientists in Universities and Research Organizations should undertake such studies.

  6. The best among the traditional practices and non-chemical methods should be blended with the modem techniques and technologies, for sustainable crop production.

  7. The crop varieties which, are resistant to pests and diseases as well as soil and climatic stresses should form the major component of IPM. In remote areas, the farmers are cultivating traditional varieties for centuries in more or less isolated pockets. In addition, we have a rich bio-diversity of gene pools in permanent ecosystems such as forests. Efforts should be intensified to collect these valuable genetic materials and utilize them for evolving resistant varieties.

  8. The choice of the seed, method of storage and the pre-sowing treatments with indigenous materials are important in getting good varieties of the crop and good yield. In the ancient literature on Vrkshayurveda, details on the above are available for many crops. They should be investigated in the present day context and utilized for the benefit of the farmers. Collaborative work with Ayurvedic practitioners is recommended.

  9. In traditional agriculture, polycrop ecosystems are mostly adopted and an ideal crop rotation suitable to the agro-climatic conditions of the location is followed. Monocropping with a narrow genetic base is not sustainable. It is therefore emphasized that work should be further strengthened on suitable intercropping and sequential cropping systems which would minimize the pest and disease load.

  10. Excessive use of irrigation water and chemical fertilizers, particularly nitrogenous fertilizers, has led to outbreaks of pests and diseases in many crops. Hence, there is a need for optimizing the use of these inputs to reduce pest and disease incidence.

  11. Organic manures are needed, for sustainable crop growth and soil health. Pests and diseases are minimum in fields treated with different kinds of organic manures. The farmers should be encouraged to produce enough organic manure at the farm and village levels. Bioconversion of farm / rural / urban / industrial wastes for composting should be adopted for minimizing the use of chemical fertilizers and the damages caused by pests and diseases.

  12. The chemical pesticides have led to several problems such as development of resistance of the pests to pesticides, resurgence of target and non-target pests, tainting and leaving residues of pesticides in food, fodder, feed, water, soil and air, destruction of beneficial organisms such as honeybees, parasites, predators, birds, pollinators, microorganisms, and phytotoxicity to plants besides causing innumerable diseases in human beings and domestic animals. Repeated use of chemical compounds has also resulted in the failure of pesticides in checking the pests. The resource poor farmers of the country cannot afford to use the chemical pesticides in view of the high costs. Hence, the Congress decided to request the concerned authorities to propagate the ideas of IPM and non-chemical methods of crop protection, besides highlighting the drawbacks of the chemical pesticides.

  13. Farmers are using many plant products in pest and disease management. Locally available species such as neem, Karanj, Mahua, Vitex, Ipomea, etc., are used commonly. More species of plants possessing crop protection value should be identified and products developed. Studies are also needed to improve the efficiency of the plant products by the addition of locally available adjuvant.

  14. Natural control of pests by parasites, predators, insect pathogens birds, reptiles some mammals etc, is an important factor in IPM. The balance of life in the ecosystem should not be disturbed and the beneficial species must be conserved for getting the maximum benefit.

  15. Wherever the naturally occurring biological control agents are not adequately present, they should be bred on a large scale, using the local resources and supplied to the farmers for release in the fields.

  16. The farmers should be trained to mass produce the biopesticides at the village level on a. co-operative basis. All encouragement should be provided for the production and use of biopesticides.

  17. There are many cultural, mechanical and physical methods of crop protection which are simple and easy to adopt and are cost-effective. Large scale campaigns should be organized to control pest and disease outbreaks, involving the farmers, schools and college students, teachers, NGOs and Government departments.

  18. In ancient agricultural science, there was a system of predicting the outbreaks of pests and diseases in relation to weather changes in the solar cycle. These methodologies should be investigated and incorporated with the modern techniques for forewarning / forecasting.

  19. The data available from various institutions on insect traps, such as light traps, sticky traps, insect sex pheromone traps, suction traps, fungal spore traps etc, must be documented. Different trap systems should be used to control and monitor pests,

  20. Strategies for achieving the goals of sustainable agriculture with minimum disruption to the agroecosystem must be developed and popularized.

  21. In Animal Husbandry by and large the traditional technology is being practiced by our livestock farmers throughout the "country and farmers experiences-are tested and many of them have also been proved scientifically.

  22. In order to develop better technologies and for exchange of information and materials, the Congress strongly recommends initiating an "All India Coordinated Research and Development Project on Organic Farming and Traditional Agriculture", with emphasis on sustainable crop production, under the aegis of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

  23. Providing Institutional Support: KEY ISSUES

    a. Involvement of scientists for validation and value addition.
    b. Research support to innovative farmers.
    c. System of registration of new ideas and innovation developed by fanners.
    d. Venture capital for local entrepreneurs in developing and commercializing new
    products from local knowledge. ,
    e. Mechanism for promoting contact / interaction between innovative farmers and
    f. Mechanism for compensation to original innovators or community.
    g. Incorporating indigenous knowledge into curriculum and formal education.

Contact Address:
Dr. K. Vijayalakshmi Centre for Indian
Knowledge Systems
No.2, 25th East Street, Thinjvanmiyur,
MADRAS - 600 041.

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