ICAR research complex at Plandu, Ranchi
Ranchi, Feb. 28: If experts have long recognised the need for a centre solely dedicated to training high-level talent for cutting edge research in agriculture, who would have imagined that a way out would be found right here in Ranchi.
For, even though P. Chidambaram made public today in his Budget speech that the state capital would soon host Indian Institute of Agricultural Bio-Technology, those in the know quietly admit that work to set it up has been underway for quite some at Garhkhatanga.
K.K. Soan, director of agriculture in Jharkhand, said 120 acre had already been identified in the area along the Ring Road between Tupudana and Namkum, about 15km from the district collectorate.
An added advantage is that Garhkhatanga is well-connected with approach roads from opposite parts of Ranchi — Namkum in the east and Hatia in the west.
“Preparations for the foundation stone laying ceremony of the proposed bio-technology institute is already underway,” said R. Ramani, Indian Institute for Natural Resin and Gum director, who has been named officer on special duty (OSD) for the project.
“The function will be held anytime in March,” he told The Telegraph, adding Union agriculture minister Sharad Power was expected to do the honours.
Ramani said Rs 187.5 crore, under the 12th finance commission, had already been allotted for the institute that will be a deemed university and run by Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR). Most of the money would go to creating adequate infrastructure.
“ICAR did not have a dedicated centre to train high-level scientists and researchers anywhere in the country. This institute in Jharkhand will now fill the gap,” Ramani said.
The primary crop of Jharkhand has been paddy.
But agriculture scientists believe that the hills and plateaus of the state make it more conducive for agro-forestry crops like fruit and timber varieties.
According to S. Kumar, principal scientist at ICAR’s Plandu research complex, Jharkhand has over 22 lakh hectare farm land of which only around 25 per cent was low-lying with plenty of water throughout the year. The rest of the land needed irrigation during the dry months.
“The proposed institute will be of immense use for a state like Jharkhand. Now we can look forward to developing drought-resistant varieties of crops through bio-technological intervention,” he said.
Other experts also welcomed the development, claiming that the proposed institute would help bring about a green revolution not only in Jharkhand but also in neighbouring states of Bengal, Bihar and Chhattisgarh.
“The objective of setting up the bio-technology institute is to increase agricultural productivity in the region through improved crops and farming. It is not possible through traditional seeds and old methods of farming,” explained M.P. Pandey, director (research) of Birsa Agricultural University (BAU), Kanke.
Agriculture sector apart, the institute, with its collection of scientists, would help increase productivity in allied sectors of fisheries, horticulture and floriculture, keeping in mind changing climatic conditions and water scarcity in the region.
Jharkhand already has three allied institutes. The Horticulture and Agriculture Research Programme (HARP) in Plandu, and Indian Institute for Natural Resin and Gum, Namkum, are run by ICAR under the government of India. BAU, Kanke, is run by the state.