Dr. Abhilaksh Likhi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, (Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare) interacted with farmers at the Precision Farming Development Centre created under National Committee on Precision Agriculture & Horticulture (NCPAH). He also visited the RKVY- RAFTAAR Agri-start up Agribusiness Incubator (R-ABI) and the Integrated Beekeeping Development Centre (IBDC) at the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU), Coimbatore.
Government of India has setup 22 Precision Farming Development Centres (PFDCs) in all the agro climatic zones of the country with an aim to develop and disseminate regionally differentiated technologies on Precision Farming such as Micro Irrigation and hi-tech agriculture (vertical farming, hydroponics aeroponics, protected cultivation, plasticulture) and to maximize production and productivity per unit area to enhance the socio-economic conditions of farmers and end users. These 22 PFDCs are located in State/Central Agricultural Universities (SAUs), ICAR Institutes and IITs in the States of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Telangana, West Bengal, Ladakh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttrakhand, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Assam.
Dr. Likhi visited the Precision Farming Development Centre (PFDC) at the TNAU, Coimbatore. The major achievements of PFDC Coimbatore are that it has conducted researches on thrust areas like Drip Irrigation, Plastic mulching, Pond lining, green house, cladding material, sprinkler irrigation. Researches have also been conducted on technologies like Drip Irrigation, Fertigation, Plastic mulching, Polyhouse, Drip automation, GIS and Soil less media. Researches in these technologies have been conducted in crops namely Amaranthus, banana, bhendi, bitter gourd, brinjal, cabbage, capsicum, castor, redgram, cauliflower, chilli, coconut cotton, cucumber, flower crops, papayas, paprika, tomato, turmeric and groundnut.
Dr. Likhi also visited the RKVY-RAFTAAR Agribusiness Incubator (R-ABI) at the TNAU. This incubation facility promotes agri-startups. DA&FW has appointed 5 knowledge Partners (KPs) as Centre of Excellence and 24 RKVY-RAFTAAR Agribusiness Incubators (R-ABIs) across the country of which Technology Business Incubator (TBI), TNAU, Coimbatore is one. These 5 Knowledge partners have been appointed for implementation assistance and advise on smooth and efficient execution of the scheme, handholding of R-ABIs and implement a Centre of Excellence to demonstrate best practices to agri-startup eco system, etc. Five Knowledge partners across the country are (a) National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Hyderabad, (b) National Institute of Agricultural Marketing (NIAM), Jaipur, (c) Indian Agricultural Research institute (IARI), Pusa, New Delhi, (d) University of Agriculture Science, Dharwad, Karnataka, (e) Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat, Assam.
So far, 1055 agri-startups during FY-2019-22 to 2022-23 has been finally selected by different knowledge partners and agribusiness incubators of DA&FW and Rs. 10932.24 lakhs as grants in aid has been recommended. Recently an Agri-startup Conclave in the PM Kisan Samman Sammelan was inaugurated by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India at IARI, PUSA,New Delhi where 300 agri-startup displayed/showcased their innovations.
Under TBI, TNAU, Coimbatore, three Cohorts of Agriprenuership Orientation Programme (AOP) & Start-up Incubation Programme (SAIP) has been completed successfully and 300 Star-ups have been trained. 41 Startups have been provided with grant of Rs. 3.87 crore.
Finally, he visited the Integrated Beekeeping Development Centre (IDBC) in TNAU which was established in the year 2017-18. TNAU is conducting training to farmers using the facilities created under IBDC. About 3000 farmers were trained in the last 4 years. The disease diagnostic laboratory is functioning with PCR, Centrifuge, gel documentation and other equipments. Honey processing unit is functioning and they process their honey as well as honey from farmers. TNAU is having more than 150 hives of Indian honey bee (Apis cerana indica), about 20 hives of Apis mellifera and about 40 hives of stingless bees in their apiary and university campus. Rs. 138.28 lakhs have been sanctioned to Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore for setting up of Integrated Beekeeping Development Center (IBDC) during 2017-18.
Dr. Likhi while interacting with farmers, beekeepers, agri-entrepreneurs and students emphasised that extensive extension efforts must be initiated by all stakeholders to ensure maximum outreach of agricultural technologies and related innovations amongst small and marginal farmers.
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