US India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA)
The contribution of US Land Grant Universities during 1960’s in transforming India’s National Agricultural Research System has been well recognized as it greatly helped in ushering the green revolution in the country. The collaboration has also enriched American Institutions with international insights and networks. The process of technology led agricultural growth continued in the subsequent decades which enabled India to move towards white, yellow and blue revolutions, thus ensuring self reliance in food security.
The global agricultural scenario has been witnessing a sea change for the last two decades. New issues such as global warming and climate change, new pests & diseases, natural resource depletion and degradation, house hold nutritional security, slowly growing farm profitability, food safety, trade competition etc. have arisen. The involvement of private sector in agricultural research, education and training is yet another development which need to be harnessed. Thus, agriculture has become more global in its reach, more complex in trade and exchanges, more technologically grounded and ever more challenged with balancing sustainability, productivity, profitability and inclusiveness. In order to address these issues, a paradigm shift is called for in human resource development, research, technology generation, technology dissemination and commercialization. The USA and India being leaders in different fields of science and technology and with rich past experience of R&D collaboration for agriculture development have tremendous scope to compliment each other’s capabilities by forging new strategic alliance in key areas. To that end, the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India and the United States Department of Agriculture jointly decided to promote a new, a US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture education, research, ervice and commercial linkages.
In pursuance of this decision, educational and research areas were identified through wide consultations for possible coverage under KIA. The KIA Board discussed the areas and decided four priority areas, (i) namely, human resource and institutional capacity building, (ii) agri-processing and marketing, (iii) emerging technologies and (iv) natural resource management. In the short run, the Board agreed to concentrate on the four themes namely, (i) education, learning resources, curriculum development and training, (ii) food processing, use of byproducts, and biofuels, (iii) biotechnology and (iv) water management.
In the first theme, reorientation of teaching methodologies, course curricula, interaction with industry, use of new ICTs, developing and using new learning resources are emphasized to enhance quality of teaching, education and research. Inservice training, group training, faculty exchange, post-doctoral
programmes, workshops, consultancy, public-private sector partnership, industry-academia interface workshops etc. are included under this theme. In the second theme, under food processing, advanced extraction and extrusion processing technologies, high pressure processing, use of membrane technology, modified atmosphere packaging, and electronic radiation technologies are emphasized. Similarly, under by-product utilization, extraction of products of nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetic and pesticidal values from agricultural wastes and by-products are emphasized. Under bio-fuel, advanced technologies for production of fuel alcohols from agricultural biomass and thermo-chemical conversion of biomass into fuel oils are emphasized. Under theme three on biotechnology, strategic alliance in genomics in crops, animal and fishes, molecular breeding in crop and animals, development of transgenic crops and animals, molecular approaches for plants and animal health protection and quality assurance, value addition and safety of food products are emphasized. Under theme four on water management, sustainable use of ground water resources, water quality management and remediation, use of modern tools in water management and assessment and management of agricultural droughts are advocated.
The expected gains from the initiative are enormous and they include reinvigorated educational system with trained human resource and re-oriented agricultural research system contributing to enhanced productivity, quality, profitability, income, employment and better input use efficiency.
In respect of critical activities under various themes, select Indian and American institutions are identified for alliance keeping in view their strength and complementarities.
The budget to implement the initiative from the Indian side is projected for a period of three years. The estimated total budgetary implication of the whole initiative is Rs 3500 million comprising Rs.650 million for HRD, Rs.450 million for agro-processing, by-product utilization and bio-fuel, Rs.2145 million for biotechnology and Rs.255 million for water management.