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National seminar on sustainable horti gets underway

By EMN Updated: Feb 27, 2015 12:01 am

Alice Yhoshu

A three-day national level seminar on ‘Sustainable Horticulture vis-à-vis Changing Environment’ got underway at the School of Agricultural Sciences and Rural Development (SASRD), Nagaland University, Medziphema campus Thursday morning. The event, an initiative of the Horticulture Society of North East India (HSNEI) is bringing together delegates from 20 states including eminent researchers, policymakers, producers, marketing personnel, development agencies and other stakeholders on a common platform to collate information on various aspects of horticulture. Dwelling on the key issues touching upon all the aspects of horticulture, the seminar is aimed to formulate strategies for sustainable horticulture in the face of the changing environment, and advance the sector which is considered the core of Indian agriculture.
Chief Minister, TR Zeliang who graced the inaugural programme of the seminar as the chief guest, in his address commented that horticulture has become a growth engine of agriculture in the country, having the potential to meet the need for food, nutrition and health care besides providing better returns on farm land and opportunity for employment. He pointed out the looming challenge for increasing production and productivity of horticultural crops, so as to meet growing demands for horticultural produce owing to greater health awareness, rising income and increasing population. He observes that it gets more challenging in the context of the changing environment- the declining land and water availabilities, and the threat posed by climate change.
“The task is huge for the horticulture sector, if we are to achieve the targeted production of 340 million tonnes of horticultural crops by end of the 12th Plan,” he said.
On the growing concerns about sustainability in the face of changing environment and global warming, the Chief Minister stressed on the need to study the impact of climate change on horticultural crops and the impacts to be addressed in a concerted and systematic manner by introducing much needed innovations. “Our research institutions such as ICAR and Central Institute of Horticulture (CIH) should immediately work towards meeting these fresh challenges, so as to work out appropriate adaptation strategies,” he said.
While acknowledging that jhum cultivation is a mainstay of agriculture for many, Zeliang asserted that the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayan region, particularly the northeast, can best be preserved if horticulture is taken up in a big way and reduce areas under jhum cultivation.
This is not to do away with jhumming but to improvise the system in parallel with maintaining ecological balance, he stated, adding, on the other hand it will also convert the non-viable, subsistence farming to economically viable farming.
Also mentioning that organic farming is identified as an adaptive strategy of climate change, he hailed the Prime Minister’s recent announcement to make the northeast region the organic farming zone of the country. “Those who are entrusted with development of horticulture in the region should immediately prepare a master plan and strategy for development of organic horticulture farming in the northeast in a big way,” Zeliang stated.
Towards this end, the Chief Minister also highlighted the need of a central agricultural university in Nagaland, for which the state government has already sent proposal to the government of India. He opined that the present SASRD campus and the CIH at Medziphema could be used as the campus of the proposed university to begin with.
He further expressed hope that the three-day seminar will generate outcomes and recommendations which could be a basis for important policy decisions.
Meanwhile, delivering the keynote address, National Horticulture Board (NHB) Gurgaon managing director, Dr. AK Singh said despite horticulture constituting one of the most vibrant part of the Indian agriculture, he feels that the country is lagging behind others. If horticulture is to be sustainable, he said, there has to be a seamless blend of traditional practice with modern technology. He pointed that the system has to be economically viable and environmentally sound, for which there has to be an alliance of knowledge.
He also talked about the importance of building an efficient production system and reiterated the need to adopt and inculcate modern technology. However, at the same time, he observes that only developing technology with different traits will not help if they are not taken to the farmers. We have to scale up the education system of horticulture, keep on updating the knowledge and continuously disseminate information to farmers, he stated. This, he remarked, will help the farm economy, and the farmers, in turn, can convert themselves into entrepreneurship.
“Integration has to be there to make the whole process sustainable,” he said, and further stated that the time has come to compile information that will be beneficial to all- farmers, traders, stakeholders and the economy.
A host of ministers and parliamentary secretaries also attended the inaugural function.
Altogether, seven technical sessions and 60 papers will be presented during the three day seminar.
Two technical sessions were held this afternoon wherein, former director NCOF New Delhi Dr. AK Yadav, CRIDA Hyderabad principal scientist Dr. NN Reddy and NRC for Citrus Nagpur principal scientist Dr. AK Srivastava, AICRPS, IISR project coordinator & principal scientist Dr. K Nirmal Babu, and IARI division of Agricultural Chemicals principal scientist Dr. NA Shakil were the lead speakers.
On the second day, sessions will be held on Advances in Production Technology of Fruits & Plantation Crops; Advances in Production Technology of Vegetables & Spices; and Advances in Production Technology of Floriculture, Aromatic and Medicinal Plant; and Crop Care & Plant Protection.

CM assures better power, roads to NU campuses
Chief Minister, TR Zeliang today assured to provide dedicated power line for SASRD (NU) Medziphema and NU Meriema Campus, and improve the inter-link roads to both the campuses.
He announced this while addressing the inaugural function of the national seminar on ‘Sustainable Horticulture vis-à-vis Changing Environment’ at SASRD (NU) Medziphema.
On the occasion, the chief minister also announced that minimum support price for agricultural and horticultural crops will be introduced from this year (2015) onwards.

By EMN Updated: Feb 27, 2015 12:01:47 am