ICAR handbook full of outdated information

New Delhi, Nov 13 | Updated: Nov 14 2005, 05:30am hrs
Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indias umbrella organisation for public sector agricultural research, is registered as a society which plans, conducts and promotes research, education, training and transfer of technology for advancement of agriculture and allied sciences.

Indias transformation from a food deficit to a food surplus country, the apex body tells you, is courtesy the smooth and rapid transfer of farm technology from the laboratory to the land.

But is the custodian of agricultural research disseminating the right kind of information Not quite, going by some nuggets of wisdom unearthed from the 2005 edition of its yearly handbook by Chengal Reddy, president of the Hyderabad-based Federation of Farmers Associations (FFA).

In recent times, says the handbook, locust activity was maximum during 1950-54 and 1960-62 (page 15). 1950s/60s and recent What next That India got its independence a few years ago

The handbook then goes on to make certain recommendations for protecting ganja (cannabis sativa) from pests (page 538)! If cannabis is an illegal crop (any abetment to cultivation of cannabis is a punishable offence under the National Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act), is it fine for ICAR scientists to offer scientific advice on pest control for it

It also carries liberal recommendations of banned pesticides-including DDT, BHC, chlordane, heptachlor etc. Our question again is, how can ICAR scientists recommend banned pesticides Or are they above the law of the land

It goes on to designate India as the largest producer and exporter of cardamom (Page 1165). If we are not wrong, Guatemala has snatched that mantle from India more than 10 years back! The list is endless.

Ironically ICAR has over 30,000 agricultural scientists, the largest in the world. For its part, India has 38 agricultural universities that employ another 25,000-plus scientists.

The agricultural sector represents 35% of Indias gross national product (GNP) and is the means of livelihood of about two-thirds of the work force in the country. Is a little more concern too much to ask