Jorhat, Apr 17 (PTI) Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today said the farm sector in Assam needs innovative practices for sustenance and called upon farmers to take up allied activities such as poultry, dairy and fisheries.

“There have been many advances in farming practices like precision farming, vertical farming and robotic farming. We must see if these innovations can be tried out in your state,” Naidu said.

He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the year-long golden jubilee celebrations of Assam Agricultural University in Jorhat.

India needs to respond effectively to the changing needs of the farm sector and agricultural universities have an important role to play to ensure its sustenance, Naidu said.

“Knowledge makes all the difference. The educational institutions must generate new ideas, extend the frontiers of scientific knowledge and search for practical solutions to challenging problems,” he said.

The farmers who toil on the farms should be empowered with knowledge, financial credit, warehousing and insurance facilities, he said.

“Achieving self sufficiency in the pulses and oilseed sector is a challenge before the country. With the dedication demonstrated by our agriculturists and the cutting-edge research being conducted in our laboratories, I am sure we will achieve self sufficiency in these two crops soon,” Naidu said.

The “contemporary realities” like climate change, fatigued soil health, diminishing water resources and endangered bio-diversity are currently affecting agricultural practices, he said.

Farming as a profession is becoming increasingly “uneconomical” and, therefore, “unattractive”, he said, adding that “fewer people are now opting for agriculture practices. In order to meet these challenges effectively, we need highly skilled and motivated human resources, persons who will think out of the box and institutions that foster innovation”.

Naidu urged scientists and state governments to encourage farmers to take up diversified activities, such as fishery and poultry.

Expressing satisfaction with the Assam government’s efforts to revitalise the animal husbandry sector, he said: “This is, in my view, the need of the hour. Farmers should be encouraged to diversify and take up allied activities to cushion them against uncertain and uneven returns from farming”.

Assam Governor Jagadish Mukhi, Agriculture Minister Atul Bora and other dignitaries were among those present at the programme today.

Talking about the agriculture growth in the state, Naidu said the farming sector in Assam is marching ahead slowly but steadily.

“Presently, I believe, it is growing at around 5 per cent. Rice production has increased from 3.8 million tonnes in 2001-02 to 5.2 million tonnes in 2016-17. This is still far below its potential of 12 million tonnes.

“Similarly, pulses production increased from 0.85 lakh tonnes to 1.08 lakh tonnes and oil seeds from 1.56 lakh tonnes to 2.15 lakh tonnes in this period. While the state is self sufficient in rice, special efforts are needed to increase production of oil seeds and pulses,” the vice president said.

Apparently, a great scope exists in the wheat sector too, Naidu said.

“I understand that wheat is not a popular crop with farmers of this state. The production is only 0.34 lakh tonnes against a demand of around 6 lakh tonnes. The university, state government and the farmers have to work together to realise the complete potential,” he added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.