Minister for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries Sharad Pawar has called for evolving global standards to enhance quality and relevance of agricultural education and research in the country. Addressing a two-day conference of vice chancellors of agriculture universities and directors of ICAR institutes here today, Pawar said, “Requisite models of public-private partnerships must be evolved for educational activities as well as for development, application and flow of technologies from lab to the market place and for strengthening of National Agricultural Research and Education System infrastructure through active interface with the industry.” He stated that, “In order to effectively address the emerging needs of agricultural sector, we require highly competent human resources. In this context, Global schools, demand-driven curricula, student centered and problem solving approach in curriculum delivery, effective co-ordination of multi-commodity and multi-disciplinary research in entire production to consumption chain of agricultural commodities and capacity building through training at the national and international level, are some issues which need priority attention.” “I am glad to share with you that the Council is contemplating a National Agricultural Education Project for which a committee is already working to suggest reforms and renewal of higher agricultural education in the country,” he further added. Referring to the revised course curricula now implemented in agricultural universities, Pawar said that new curricula focuses on development of knowledge, skills and attitude. “To make it demand driven, new courses have been added including the Experiential Learning with the objective of entrepreneurship development in students,” he stated. He called upon the vice chancellors to expeditiously take steps for adoption of the Model Act developed by the ICAR for agricultural universities. Expressing happiness over increase in number of woman students in higher agricultural education in the recent years, he said that 60 new girls hostels in 38 agricultural universities have been completed that can accommodate 3,000 more girl students. The Minister said, “Degradation of natural resources and unpredictable shifts in climatic patterns have been impacting the farming practices. Competitions posed by globalization and opening up of economies, ethical issues of trade related intellectual property rights, genetically modified foods and organisms and enforcement of strict quality regimes need immediate attention while developing technically qualified manpower. More than ever before, knowledge coupled with skills has become imminent for enhancing agricultural production, marketing and trade.” He further added, Pawar said, “The infrastructure including the laboratories, farm and other facilities in some of the institutions are quite old and need renovation and upgradation. He said that though the ICAR supports agricultural universities to the possible extent to develop globally competitive infrastructure for technology generation and dissemination and human capacity building, the States should also rise to the occasion by extending adequate support.” The Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, Harish Rawat also addressed the conference. He said that agriculture in India, through research and technology development, has enabled the country, to increase the production of foodgrains by 4 times, horticultural crops by 6 times, fish by 9 times, milk 6 times and eggs 27 times since 1950-51. Rawat said, “The Department of Agricultural Research and Education extends, academic, professional, and limited financial support, to the state agricultural universities. Keeping in view the minimum essential requirements, which can bring about tangible changes at ground level, several new initiatives were put forth that needed greater financial support from the Government of India.” “The present era of partnership calls for enhanced collaboration between the agricultural universities and ICAR institutes, and other related agencies,” he concluded.
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