India has earned more than Rs 18,000 crore foreign exchange per year from export of basmati rice, especially from the variety 1121 developed by the country’s top agri-institute ICAR, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said today. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed many new varieties and technologies which have helped transform the food importing nation to an food exporting country, he said. The institute is playing an important role in fulfilling the government’s vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, he added.
“Instead of boasting about the past achievements, the ICAR should focus on addressing the present and future challenges,” the minister said while addressing the 90th foundation day ceremony of the ICAR. Much of the ICAR research so far was on raising farm output to reduce the country’s dependence on imports but going forward the institute should concentrate on raising crop yields, increasing nutrition level, developing climate resilient crop varieties besides attracting youth in farm sector, he said.
The efforts should be towards improving the farming and farmers’ income, he said. Highlighting measures taken to boost farmers’ income, the minister said the government had recently raised MSP of kharif crops that is 50 per cent higher than the cost of production. Echoing the views, Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, “We have become self-sufficient in most crops except one oilseeds/edibles oils.
One big challenge before us is reducing import of edible oils.” Over Rs 70,000 crore worth of edible oil is imported every year. “It is not the time to sit quiet. We need to move ahead and address this challenge,” he said. ICAR Director General Trilochan Mohapatra said the institute has released 189 varieties in last six month.
Processable varieties in tomato (H391) and onion (HR6) have been released, which will help boost farmers income. He said that innovation and support of agri-scientists are required for achieving the government’s vision of doubling farmers’ income.