Successful NATP Awaits Second Innings

Hyderabad, March 24 | Updated: Mar 25 2004, 05:30am hrs
The World Bank assisted Rs 992.3-crore National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP), formed during 1998, is looking at a second phase of expansion in the country. The project has implemented large number of research projects all over the country in agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries.

During the first phase, about 58 new technologies for the rain-fed region was developed and about 23 technologies have already been transferred to the private sector, according to Dr SL Mehta, national director of NATP. The second phase will work towards strengthening more linkages with the private sector along with state agricultural universities besides scaling up the existing projects to a larger groups.

``We are also looking at newer areas like biotechnology for better hybrids and those which can take care of biotic and abiotic stress in the crops,'' he said.

Apart from rice, sorghum, the second phase of expansion will develop newer technologies for pulses and oilseeds which are mostly prone to pest attacks, Dr Mehta said on the sidelines of an ongoing three-day national symposium on `Enhancing productivity and sustainability in Rainfed agro ecosystems' organised by the Central Research Institute of Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) and Acharya NG Ranga Agricutural University (ANGRAU).

These technologies have undergone in about 10,000 on-farm trials and proved a success with an increase in the revenue of about 30 per cent to 100 per cent. There is a saving of Rs 2,500 per acre by adopting zero tillage or straight sowing in the fields, Dr Mehta said.

Further, NATP proposes to install IT kiosks linking 24 research institutes networking with state agricultural universitites. A database is being created relating information on all the newer technologies required by a rainfed farmer through formation of more Agriculture Technology Management Agencies (ATMA) across the country.

The project has divided the country into different sectors based on the climatic zones - rainfed, coastal, hill & mountain and aried. About 63 per cent of the country come under rainfed and has earmarked about Rs 110 crore project for this region, he said.

NATP has succeeded in identifying improved varieties in rainfed rice, sorghum, pearl millet, pulses and oilseeds.

In about 225 drought-prone districts in 13 states, the project has implemented water harvesting technologies. Further, contract farming is being encouraged in association with Bangalore-based Renuka Industries for biodiesel from sweet sorghum. NATP is looking out for similar contract projects for other crops, he added.