Webinar meeting on role of ICAR-IIHR in boosting horticulture during post COVID was organised on 11th May 2020 at 11.00 am to 1.00 pm. It was hosted by ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research Bengaluru. Experts in Horticulture and Agriculture and progressive farmers were the panellists. One former Member of Parliament also participated in the webinar. Press and media persons also were invited for the webinar.
The meeting had focussed on enhancing the income of the farmers through quality seed production, scope and development nutri-foods, new avenues for supply chain management and entrepreneurship development with special reference to horticultural crops. The programme started with the opening remarks by the Director, ICAR-IIHR in entrepreneurship in horticulture and scope for entrepreneurship development. He emphasised that because of the lockdown many of the horticultural activities are adversely affected. To improve the economy, horticulture has the prominent role to play. He sought suggestions from experts and requested the media to bring awareness among farmers about new technologies which are developed at IIHR.
Dr. H. C. Prasanna, Principal Scientist and Nodal officer, ICAR-IIHR, made a brief presentation on enhancing income through quality seed production and highlighted that seed import is to the tune of 2789 metric tonnes valued at 6000 crores and mentioned that the export of vegetable seeds is 7383 metric tonnes valued at 5000 crores. He emphasised that there is a scope for restricting the import and enhancing the production and export of seeds and planting material of horticultural crops.
Dr. Oberoi, Principal Scientist and I/c Head, Division of Post-Harvest Technology emphasized on scope for nutri-foods and to improve the immunity further. He highlighted the role of nutri-foods viz. pomegranate juice, Arka Jackolate (from jack fruit) etc. already developed at ICAR-IIHR. Dr. T.M. Gajanana Principal Scientist has made a presentation on new avenues of supply chain management and emphasised on direct marketing of perishable produce through E-NAM and use of recent information technologies to improve the marketing.
Dr. C.K. Narayana. Principal Scientist presents on scope for horticultural entrepreneurship by taking various technologies developed at ICAR-IIHR and also mentioned that there is system in place at ICAR-IIHR to encourage entrepreneurship through BESST-HORT programme sponsored by DST, Govt of India.
After the presentations, the expert panel gave important suggestions. Dr.G. S. Prakash suggested that develop different marketing models for different commodities need to be developed. He emphasized that post harvest technologies and processing have to be given special importance in managing the situation. Sri. C. Narayanaswamy appreciated the quality seed production proposal and also restrictions for the import of seeds. He also emphasised on involving FPOs in marketing to avoid the middle men. A progressive grower, Sri N.C. Patel was of the opinion that encouraging fruit and vegetable cultivation will help in boosting immunity. The vegetable fruit vending van developed by IIHR need to be popularised more and more processing varieties have to be developed. A model for marketing using social media has to be (e.g.) What’s app group need to be developed. Dr. K. Narayana Gowda, Ex-Vice-Chancellor, GKVK, UAS Bangalore, emphasised that nutritional security through fruits and vegetables has to be taken care of.
Other issues deliberated during the discussion were retaining labourers in post-COVID period, online training by ICAR-IIHR, programmes through AIR/ Akasha Vani, popularizing the Vending Van developed by ICAR-IIHR, enhanced production of quality seed and planting material, using KVKs and farmers Samparka Kendras for disseminating the information, developing drought resistant lines and making compulsory crop scheduling in specific areas.
The total number of participants was 86 and out of them 52 represented Press and Media. All Heads of the Divisions and Scientists also attended the programme through video conference. Finally the meeting was ended with Vote of Thanks by Dr. T.S. Aghora, Principal Scientist and In-charge Prioritization, Monitoring and Evaluation Cell, ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru.