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Background of NAIP

 

Supported by wide-ranging reforms particularly beginning 1991, India experienced rapid growth over the past decade (averaging about 6% year between 1992/3 and 2003/4). In parallel with this faster growth, it has made impressive progress towards reducing poverty; an important element of the MDGs. Continued progress has also been made on many social indicators, particularly literacy, which rose from 52% in 1991 to 65% in 20011.

However, weakening agricultural performance beginning with the mid nineties, is a national concern. The marked slow-down in growth rates in the traditional “green revolution states” and the breadbasket of the country, namely, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh (”green revolution fatigue”) is a major setback2. As these states account for 74% and 26% of the production of wheat and rice respectively, these lower growth rates are again raising food security concerns. At the same time, the states of Bihar, Orissa, Assam and MP, in which rural poverty rates and dependence on agriculture are the highest; agriculture shows limited and slow improvement.  The challenge of sustaining growth over the longer term has been highlighted by several recent studies that find total factor productivity (TFP) in agriculture declining between the 1980s and 1990s.  It is reported that while TFP3 grew by 2% per year between 1981 and 1990, the growth rate became negative during 1990–96 in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, comprising the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.4  The studies attribute the deceleration in TFP growth rate to the slow-down in productivity gains from the earlier adoption of high-yielding varieties, the decline in public investments in the agricultural sector, and increasing degradation of natural resources.

 

The green revolution in wheat and rice, white revolution in milk, yellow revolution in oilseed and the “blue revolution” in fisheries have augmented the food basket of the country. But many technological challenges remain. First, despite the shrinking share (23%) of the agricultural sector in the economy, the majority of the labour force (nearly 60%) continues to depend on agriculture. About 75% of India’s poor people with low purchasing power live in rural areas and nearly 60% of the cultivated area is under rainfed farming.  Hence, the National Agricultural Policy and the Tenth Five Year Plan place high priority on raising agricultural productivity as a means to achieve more rapid agricultural growth and reduce rural poverty. Secondly, stagnating/decelerating productivity growth and declining total factor productivity in agriculture have cast doubts on the resilience of the sector to meet the challenges of a more market-driven and competitive regime. Related to the issue of stagnating productivity is the obvious limited connection between input use and productivity growth performance. Thirdly, current unsustainable land and water use practices will lead to lower agricultural productivity in the future.  Fourthly, ensuring economic and ecologically sound access to food to every Indian, while conserving and improving the natural resources and traditional wisdom, in a more competitive regime, is yet another challenge.

To address these challenges and to generate additional income and employment for the poor, the role of agricultural research and development (R&D) is critical. Given the limited scope for area expansion, increases in productivity, profitability and competitiveness will have to be the main parameters of the agricultural growth in the future and this should be led or triggered by advances and innovations in, and applications of science in agriculture.  In other words, Indian agriculture will have to shift from resource or input-based growth to knowledge or science-based growth.  In this paradigm shift, the flow of knowledge and innovations plays a critical role. R&D assumes more importance because it is a cost-effective method for promoting growth with sustainability while attaining competitiveness. For making agricultural R&D achieve these goals, first the R&D system efficiency has to be enhanced and the enabling environment for science to excel has to be created. Secondly, new and innovative ways of doing research have to be developed like pursuing a production to consumption system (PCS) approach which comprises the entire set of actors, materials, activities services and institutions involved in growing, harvesting and handling a particular commodity, transforming it into usable and/or higher value product, and marketing the final product. Studies show growing regional imbalances in India. In a welfare state, such a trend can not be allowed to continue and therefore special R&D efforts to target disadvantaged areas should receive priority attention.  For example, in the vast dryland areas where the possibility of large scale irrigation infrastructure development is very limited, productivity can only be enhanced by innovative and appropriate technological advancements/interventions complemented with institutional and policy support. Participation and empowerment of the stakeholders are a major necessity for ensuring success.  Harnessing advances in frontier sciences in selected priority areas to break the yield and quality barriers for satisfying the present and future national needs and attaining global competitiveness with larger spin-off benefits to India has to be given focused attention. Therefore support to basic and strategic research is also critical.

The recently concluded National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) led by the ICAR aimed to implement a shared understanding of the Government of India and the World Bank on technology-led-pro-poor growth, and facilitated the public sector reform process for accelerating the flow of agricultural technologies. A key lesson from the NATP is that deliberate investments in partnership building and shared governance are required to speed up technology adaptation and dissemination. Another lesson was that while the project undertook an enormous number of activities, mostly successfully, the bigger picture was very clear in the extension component where the project activities were guided by a well defined conceptual model for collaborative agricultural extension.  The challenges, opportunities and the lessons learnt in the NATP provide a useful framework to move forward.

The NAIP responds to the GOI’s objectives as expressed in India’s National Policy on Agriculture (NPA), which accords high priority to generation and transfer of agricultural technologies, and reforms in the technology system. The NPA seeks to actualize the vast untapped growth potential of Indian agriculture to generate income and employment opportunities for the rural communities. The policy recognizes the role of the private sector in agricultural research, human resource development, post-harvest management and value addition. The 10th Five Year Plan envisages a growth rate of 4% per annum in the agriculture sector. To achieve such growth requires investments in research, extension, as well as interventions that improve the policy and institutional environment within which agricultural producers, traders and processors operate.
memory, and mostly depend on innate or nonspecific immune responses (Magnadottir, B. 2006),  the roll of TLRs are  expected to be very important. To understand the role of TLRs in innate immunity of fishes, we took three phylogenetically different types of fish, like scaled fish (carps), non scaled fish (catfish) and cartilaginous fish (shark), where no information is available on the presence of TLRs, their expression profiles in different tissues and also their nucleotide sequences. Once we obtain these data, we will be able to understand the evolutionary relationship among these fishes in respect to innate immune profiles contributed by TLR-network.
 
Success of intensive aquaculture with maximum productivity depends on healthy fish, and to maintain healthy stock boosting the innate immune response is immensely important.  In this regard, the importance of toll-like receptor (TLR) is clearly significant because, TLRs signaling activate innate immune responses. At present, there is dearth of information regarding the TLR and its contribution in Indian aquculture and no published report is available indicating the research on toll- like receptors (TLRs) of Indian fishes. Therefore, it’s a prime importance to undertake basic research on TLRs to understand its contribution to induce innate immunity in fish in order to sustain and enhance Indian aquaculture productivity in a predictable time frame