Collaborate in developing seeds, plants compatible with changing climate: Governor
JAMMU: The 6th Convocation of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu (SKUAST-J) was held at Baba Jitto Auditorium of the University on Saturday at which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief guest. Governor N N Vohra, Chancellor of the University, presided over the function and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti spoke on the occasion. Prime Minister delivered the convocation address.
During the convocation, Prime Minister presented 6 Gold Medals; Chancellor awarded 55 Ph.D. degrees in Agriculture, Basic Sciences & Veterinary Sciences & Animal Husbandry, 85 Masters degrees in Agriculture, Biotechnology and Agri Business Management, 77 Masters degrees in Veterinary Science, 12 Masters degrees in Basic Sciences, 124 Bachelor degrees in Agriculture and Biotechnology, 91 Bachelor degrees in Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences. Mehbooba Mufti, Pro Chancellor, presented 100 certificates of merit.
Governor wished a very bright future ahead to all alumni who received degrees, medals and awards at the convocation. He advised that in whatever arena they decided to work in the coming time, they must conduct themselves as disciplined professionals. He urged them to never compromise their integrity and adhere strictly to ethical and moral values.
Governor expressed his gratitude to prime minister for having graciously accepted his request and spared time to address the 6th Convocation of the University.
Appreciating the achievements of the University, Governor observed that the University had come a long way over the years and there has been progress on several fronts. He said that this was the first Convocation which was being held in the University, in the beautiful Baba Jitto Auditorium, which was completed a few months ago. He added that there were a total of 657 students in 2008 and today they have about double this number of whom significantly, nearly one-third are Post-Graduate and Ph.D. scholars. Expressing satisfaction, he noted that the University has begun to assume the contours of an institution of higher education and hoped that the Vice Chancellor would take all possible steps to ensure its further growth.
Governor noted with satisfaction that after securing accreditation by the ICAR Accreditation Board, this University has attained the 15th position among 73 State Agricultural and Veterinary Universities across the country and this year, it achieved the distinction of its scholars securing the second largest number of Post-Graduate ICAR Scholarships for higher studies in Veterinary and Fishery Sciences.
Highlighting the agricultural scenario of the State, Governor observed that nearly two-third of the population of this State is directly or indirectly dependent for its livelihood on agriculture and its allied sectors. However, the average size of our farm holdings is only .66 ha, which is about 1/3rd the national average size. He added that in Jammu region, which this University seeks to serve, 65% of the area is rain-fed, 85% of the farmers are in the small and marginal category and irrigation has been stagnant for the past many years. Besides, the land resources are facing decline.
“While tackling our internal challenges, we also need to devote urgent attention for dealing with the speedily advancing phenomenon of global warming and climate change which is already beginning to affect the food, fruit, vegetable and animal production,” Governor said adding that time has come for Agriculture Universities in all the hill states to collaborate and undertake joint research efforts in identified areas for timely developing new seeds and plants which will be compatible with the rapidly changing climatic patterns.
He further added that at the national level, it would be immensely beneficial if the Union Ministry of Agriculture, ICAR and other related scientific institutions, considered taking very early initiatives to review the content and revamp the pace of the existing pan-India agriculture research and extension methodologies. He observed that the curricula of agriculture education in the Farm Universities cannot any longer remain static and Vice Chancellors and their Faculties need to evolve dynamic approaches for matching the learning and teaching patterns with the challenges which face the agriculture production arena.
Governor noted that J&K imports milk, meat, and poultry products which cost over Rs. 2000 crore per annum. He said that it would enormously boost the economy of J&K if the State Agriculture Department, in close concert with State Farm Universities, launches well-planned initiatives to upgrade and modernize the entire livestock sector in the State. He observed that we should aim at reducing imports to nil and emerge as a net exporting State in the agriculture and livestock sectors.
“While the challenge before the country is to continuously increase its food production for feeding a population of 1.3 billion, which is still growing at a steady pace, in J&K we have to meet the challenge of neutralizing the annual foodgrains shortfall of about 5 to 6 lac metric tons and work towards becoming a food-grain exporting State,” Governor said and advised that for increasing productivity, we shall need to achieve high-efficiency levels in the utilization of our land and water resources; altogether prohibiting conversion of productive arable lands for varied non-agricultural purposes and taking time-bound steps to check the degradation of our land and water resources.