Dr. Abhilaksh Likhi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare visited the Indo-Dutch, Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Vegetables at Baramati, District Pune, Maharashtra and interacted with the farmers.
The main objective of setting of the CoE is to establish a demonstration hub for vegetable production and transfer of technologies to the extension workers and farmers in the region through their training and capacity building. Introduction of advanced technologies that are required to increase vegetable production and reduce losses in the supply chain (Field/ PHT/ Storage/ Transportation) are being shown to the farmers and extension workers. These techniques include protected cultivation, hydroponics, improved seeds and quality planting material, fertigation, Integrated Nutrient Management (INM), Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), etc.
The other objectives of the project includes supply of quality planting material of vegetables, demonstration of hi-tech protected cultivation technologies in vegetables crops, efficient use of water & fertigation through atomization, standardizing good agricultural practices to ensure higher yield and enhanced income to the farmers. The CoE facilitated the training of various level of officers, NGOs, private entrepreneurs, etc. and paved a way to develop value chain, promote employment generation and market intelligence to maximise income of farmers.
The major technology intervention under the project includes production of pest & disease free planting materials in hi-forced ventilated poly house, to use Italian media filling cum seeding machine for production of planting material, to use automatic robot in vegetables seedlings production for irrigation & fertigation, demonstration of soil less cultivation, European soil less grow bags, vertical grow bags, exotic crops like bell pepper, cherry tomato, beef tomatoes, leafy exotics & hanging muskmelons, to introduce Dutch agriculture techniques like pollination, trellising, training & pruning, butterfly vent climate control system, sensors, weather system, climate control, fertigation stock solutions and drain water recycling. Capacity building programme including India’s first ToT Programme (Training of Trainers) & Skill Development Training programmes for young entrepreneurs & FPOs, to introduce value chain Management Programme (Market Linkages) for Agriculture Produce commodity.
This Centre also provides skill development trainings to the needy people to encourage the self employment and creation of technology awareness which attracts many youngster towards agriculture.
A total of 7 Centres of Excellence (CoEs) of Indo-Dutch collaboration have been approved so far in 4 States. Out of which, 2 centres are completed in the State of Maharashtra and 5 CoEs are at various stages of completion. Beside these 7 CoEs there are 3 private CoEs also. These 7 CoEs and 3 private CoEs are operational in the States of Maharashtra, Punjab, Jammu Kashmir, Kerala and Karnataka with specific focus on horticulture crops, fruits, vegetables, potatoes and flowers.
Dr. Likhi also visited the Dutch Green house at CoE, KVK Baramati, which aims to maximise the crop production from less resources e.g. water, pesticides, manpower etc, which not only adds value to the entrepreneurs but also increases the quality of the produce being residue free. The main focus of this green-house is on demonstrating technologies under protected cultivation.
Dr. Likhi also reviewed the activities of CoE, Baramati during which the Director of the CoE made a detailed presentation. All the 7 CoEs and 3 private CoEs and Agri Start-Ups working in the region made presentations on innovations and technologies being used by them to cut down the transaction costs and create better market linkages for farmers growing fruits and vegetables. During these interactions, Ministry officials, officials of the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research, Directors of all CoEs, 23 National Research Centres for Horticulture of ICAR State Horticulture Directors and other stakeholders were connected through Video Conference.
Dr. Likhi directed all the stakeholders to ensure that the technological demonstrations being practiced in the 7 CoEs should be widely disseminated in the villages surrounding the CoEs especially to extend its benefits to the small and marginal farmers for practicing profitable agriculture.