TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS IN INDIAN AGRICULTURE
One of the major challenges that independent India faced was how a traditional sector like agriculture could be modernized particularly amongst a group of people who were illiterate or semi-literate tradition bound and economically backward. The need for modernization through innovation was imperative. It was this which prompted the government to initiate a number of measures intended to accomplish this.
Soil being the most important resource in agriculture no productivity could be achieved without enriching it. It was therefore necessary to identify the different types of soil and classify land resources accordingly. The country was divided into 186 resource areas and a soil atlas was contemplated. It was also decided to build up an inventory of difference soils across the country covering also micro nutrients which would be helpful in the scientific management of land. The resulted spinoff of this was that large areas of saline/alkaline soils were reclaimed.
Advances in genetics helped in restructuring the genetic architecture of plants which resulted in the development of hybrid maize, cotton and dwarf wheat. These breakthroughs were made possible due to innovations in related areas like plant protection, breeding of resistant varieties and chemical control.
Agriculture in India being a non mechanized sector which depended on animal husbandry made it imperative to initiate research in cattle breeding. Research was conducted for selective development of indigenous breeds and cross breeding which resulted in improved strains in cattle. Examples of this are Karan Swiss and Karan Fries. Similar developments were also carried out amongst sheep and poultry. The breeding of buffaloes was improved by perfecting semen preservation technology.
Realizing the importance to preserve rare species found in natural habitat gene sanctuaries was setup. The nodal agencies for this was the bureau of plant genetic resources which was established in 1976.This institution works in collaboration with other organizations like international plant genetic research institute.
FARM MACHINERY AND IMPLEMENTS
Innovation in agricultural machinery resulted in the development of chisel plow, puddler, manual and animal drawn seed cum fertilizer drill, power tiller operated paddy harvester, multi crop threshers, grain dryers etc…Many innovative bio gas plants is also developed and research extended to areas like energy management, biotechnology and ecological infrastructure.
SPINOFFS OF SPACE TECHNOLOGY
One of the great spinoff of space technology was that satellites could be used for monitoring agricultural activities. Ground water being essential for both agriculture and human sustenance ISRO focused on ground water prospects mapping. The ministry of agriculture in collaboration with ISRO developed a program called FASAL(forecasting agricultural output using space, agro meteorology and land based observations)This was used to forecast major crops like rice, wheat, cotton, sugarcane etc… and the first forecast was released on September 16th2008.
BIO DIVERSITY CHARACTERIZATION
Another initiative by the department of science and the department of bio technology resulted in biodiversity characterization of landscape in four areas namely north eastern region, western Himalayas, Western Ghats and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
ACCELERATED IRRIGATION BENEFIT PROGRAMS (AIBP)
This was intended to monitor the 143 irrigation projects across the country by using CARTOSAT-1.The objective was to assist the irrigation potential created by these projects.
The other programs of ISRO included the development of flood management information system; BHOOSAMPADA to evaluate the utilization of land and improve its effectiveness.ISRO was also entrusted with the evaluation of irrigation tanks which covered 24 districts in 14 states.
Despite technological advancement agriculture continues to lag in terms of growth when compared with other sectors like industry and service.
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