SKUAST-K holds conference on combating desertification and drought

Srinagar: Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir held an online conference on, ‘Food, Feed and Fibre: Linking Production and Consumption’ with an aim to create ‘positive environmental action’ to protect soil from desertification and drought.
The event was organized by the SKUAST-K’s Faculty of Agriculture, Wadura in collaboration with ICAR-World Bank funded National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) to commemorate World Day to combat desertification and drought. About 500 students, scholars, faculty members and scientists participated in the event.
Vice-Chancellor of SKUAST-K Prof Nazeer Ahmed, who was the chief guest of the programme, said that the loss of biodiversity and productivity arises from the physical, chemical and biological degradation of the land. It affects the entire natural environment and has far-reaching effects on human welfare and the global economy.
He emphasized on developing suitable technologies keeping soil health and sustainable agriculture in mind. He also informed at the occasion that the varsity has developed a drought-tolerant variety of maize, which has been evaluated at different drought-prone areas of the country and is ready for release.
The vice-chancellor also applauded the work of Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur and expressed the university’s interest for the establishment of one of its station at cold arid region Leh, Ladakh. He urged director CAZARI, Dr OP Yadav, who was guest of honour at the occasion, to work in close coordination with the SKUAST-K.
Dr Yadav in his lecture said that good agricultural practices could help restore 2 billion hectares of land benefiting about 1.3 billion population of the country. He emphasized on the fact that India suffers from some of the highest rates of desertification globally. It is likely to suffer from extreme biodiversity loss, a decline in living standards and GDP losses unless action is taken to reduce desertification.
Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Wadura Prof AH Hakeem said J&K has an ecologically fragile ecosystem and faulty agricultural practices can lead to an increased pace of land degradation. Dr Priyabratra Santra, Principal Scientist NRM, ICAR CAZRI, Jodhpur gave a presentation on “wind erosion, land degradation and the environment in hot and arid regions of India”. Dr DS Pai, SC-F & Head, Climate research and services IMD, Pune delivered a lecture on “Indian monsoon, mechanism and forecast” and also interacted with the students and scientific staff on the impact of monsoon on Indian agriculture. In addition to the webinars from the experts, selected youth presented their views under the event to combat desertification and drought. Prof Farooq A Zaki said that desertification and drought are gradually reducing the capacity of ecosystems in affected regions to sustain life
School students Ishaal Parvez (1st Std.), Nahla Bhat (7th std.), Bazila Wani undergraduate student of Faculty of Agriculture and Sabah Parvaze, PhD student of COAE expressed their views on conservation of soil, land degradation, conversion, desertification and drought. The degradation of the land reduces biodiversity and contributes to climatic changes while reducing land productivity and the ability for communities to sustain livelihoods.
Prof. Raihana Habib Kanth, organizing secretary coordinated the event and informed the house that climate change will increase the odds of worsening drought and water scarcity in many parts of the world. Participants pledged to conserve soil by taking more land under cultivation, conserve biodiversity and save natural resources. The webinar event was followed by an online quiz and slogan competition coordinated by Prof Raihana Habib Kanth and Dr Naveed Hamid, in which more than 500 students participated and e-certificates were issued to participants securing above 50 percent.

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