Empowering Small-Scale Farmers in Tribal Regions is Crucial for Agricultural Development

Dr. Anupam Mishra, Vice Chancellor of Imphal’s Central Agricultural University

Dr. Anupam Mishra, Vice Chancellor of Imphal’s Central Agricultural University articulates key moments that inspired his commitment to practical, sustainable, and globally informed agricultural education in a freewheeling chat with Education Post’s Prabhav Anand.

Question QYour extensive experience in the field of agriculture is well-known. Could you share some pivotal moments from your journey that have shaped your vision for agricultural education in India?

My journey in agriculture has been filled with pivotal moments, but a few stand out. First, my early years working on a family farm taught me the importance of hands-on learning. Later, my research on sustainable farming practices highlighted the need for modernization in Indian agriculture. Finally, collaborating with experts and witnessing successful initiatives abroad reinforced the importance of innovation in agricultural education in India. These experiences have shaped my vision for more practical, sustainable, and globally informed agricultural education in the country.

Question Q

The agricultural sector is undergoing significant technological advancements. How is your university, CAU, incorporating modern technologies, such as AI and precision farming, into the curriculum to prepare students for the future of agriculture?

At CAU Imphal, we recognize the importance of staying at the forefront of agricultural technology. So, to impart knowledge and skill in the area of modern technologies, such as AI and precision farming, the following subjects have been introduced into the curriculum at PG and PhD levels
M. Tech.
• Applied Instrumentation in Farm Machinery
• Machinery for Precision Agriculture
• Mechatronics and Robotics in Agriculture
• Computer-Aided Design of Machinery
PhD
• Advances in Machinery for Precision Agriculture
• Advances in Farm Machinery and Power Engineering
To prepare our students for the future of agriculture, we’ve integrated AI and precision farming into our curriculum. We offer specialized courses on these topics, provide access to cutting-edge equipment, and encourage research projects in collaboration with industry partners. By doing so, we ensure that our graduates are well-equipped to harness modern technologies and drive innovation in the agriculture sector.

Question Q

Collaboration between academia and industry is vital for bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical applications. How is Central Agricultural University fostering partnerships with multinational corporations to enhance students’ exposure to real-world challenges in agriculture?

CAU recognizes the significance of academia-industry collaboration in shaping well-rounded agricultural professionals. We actively foster partnerships with multinational corporations through various channels. These include internship programs, joint research projects, and corporate-sponsored initiatives. Such collaborations not only enhance students’ exposure to real-world agricultural challenges but also provide them with hands-on experience, enabling them to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical applications effectively. Under IDP-NAHEP of ICAR funded by World Bank the University has exposed 154 students to various International Institutes in Southeast Asian countries mainly for enhancing the entrepreneurial competence. Moreover, 48 faculty members of the university also underwent international training at institutes and collaborative projects have been worked out. The university has also signed MoU’s with more than 50 reputed institutes/industries in the country and four international institutes. Currently, process is going on for signing of MoU with six institutes abroad.

Question Q

Small-scale farmers constitute a significant portion of the agricultural workforce in many countries. Specially in Mizoram state where tribal people have a good majority. How can these farmers be empowered with technology and knowledge to enhance their productivity and improve their livelihoods, thereby contributing to the overall agricultural economy?

Empowering small-scale farmers, especially in tribal regions like Mizoram, is crucial for agricultural development. To enhance their productivity and livelihoods, a multifaceted approach is needed. This includes providing tailored training programs on modern farming techniques, promoting the adoption of technology for precision agriculture, and facilitating access to credit and markets. Additionally, forming cooperatives and self-help groups can help small-scale farmers pool resources and knowledge, making them more resilient and better integrated into the agricultural economy. Ultimately, this empowerment can lead to improved livelihoods and contribute to the overall growth of the agricultural sector.

Question Q

Sustainable agriculture is a key focus in today’s global discussions. What do you believe are the essential practices and policies that nations should adopt to promote sustainable farming, balancing the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs?

Sustainable agriculture is vital for our future. Nations should adopt practices and policies that prioritize the following:

Crop Diversity: Encouraging diverse cropping systems helps reduce reliance on single crops and minimizes the risk of crop failure.
Conservation Tillage: Promoting reduced tillage techniques helps preserve soil health and reduce erosion.
Organic Farming: Supporting organic practices reduces the use of harmful chemicals, benefiting both the environment and human health.
Water Management: Implementing efficient irrigation methods and water conservation measures is essential to prevent water scarcity.
Agroforestry: Integrating trees and shrubs into farming systems helps improve soil fertility, provide shade and store carbon.
Research and Education: Investing in research and education programs to disseminate sustainable farming practices.
Policy Incentives: Governments should provide incentives and subsidies for sustainable farming practices while discouraging harmful ones.

By embracing these approaches, nations can ensure that they meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.

Question Q

The cultural sector often faces challenges related to market access and fair pricing for farmers produce. What measures do you think the government and international organizations should take to ensure that farmers receive fair compensation for their efforts and investments, fostering a more equitable agricultural industry?

Ensuring fair compensation for farmers is essential for a sustainable and equitable agricultural industry. Governments and international organizations should consider the following measures:

Price Stabilization Mechanisms: Implementing price support mechanisms to provide farmers with a minimum guaranteed price for their produce.
Access to Markets: Improving infrastructure and logistics to help farmers access markets efficiently, reducing post-harvest losses.
Fair Trade Practices: Enforcing fair trade regulations and promoting ethical supply chain practices to ensure fair pricing.
Farmer Cooperatives: Encouraging the formation of farmer cooperatives to collectively negotiate prices and share resources.
Financial Support: Providing financial assistance and credit facilities to farmers to help them invest in technology and infrastructure.
Agricultural Extension Services: Offering knowledge and training to farmers on modern practices to enhance productivity and product quality.
Risk Management: Developing insurance programs to protect farmers from losses due to natural disasters or market fluctuations.

By taking these measures, governments and international organizations can create a more equitable agricultural industry that benefits both farmers and consumers.

Question Q

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of agricultural education in India, and how do you envision Central Agricultural University’s role in shaping the landscape of agricultural studies and research nationally and internationally?

My aspirations for the future of agricultural education in India are deeply rooted in excellence, innovation, and global leadership. I envision Central Agricultural Universities playing a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of agricultural studies and research both nationally and internationally. This involves:

Quality Education: Striving for world-class education by continually updating curricula, fostering research, and providing students with cutting-edge knowledge and skills.
Research Innovation: Promoting a culture of research excellence that addresses India’s unique agricultural challenges and contributes to global solutions.
Global Collaboration: Collaborating with international institutions to exchange knowledge, best practices, and research findings.
Technological Advancements: Staying at the forefront of agricultural technology and incorporating it into our teaching and research programs.
Outreach and Extension: Extending our expertise to local farming communities, supporting their growth and development.

By achieving these objectives, Central Agricultural University, Imphal, can lead the way in shaping the future of agricultural education in India and contribute significantly to the global agricultural community.

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