Indian scientists and experts call for state-of-the-art RandD to increase cotton production.

India should focus on cutting-edge research and development to increase cotton productivity and farmers’ incomes, the country’s leading agricultural scientists and experts said at a national conference on “Taking the Future of Cotton Research” in Salem, Tamil Nadu. The conference was organized by Rasi Seeds as part of its golden jubilee celebrations in association with the Federation of Seed Industries of India (FSII). About 150 top cotton scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), State Agricultural Universities (SAU), and experts from across the country participated. One of the central recommendations of the conference was the need to increase the country’s cotton productivity from the current 447 kilograms per hectare. This despite the fact that India is ahead of other countries in terms of cultivated area (136.1 lakh hectares) and production (342,000,170 kg bales). 

Experts and scientists have noted that factors such as weather variability, increasing pests and diseases, and slow adoption of advanced technologies have hindered the growth of crops that have led to increased productivity in the last 5-7 years.”The objective of this national conference is to reiterate the vital role and urgent need for cutting-edge R&D in cotton cultivation in India and to explore holistic solutions to increase cotton productivity. Special focus on enabling technological and policy interventions is the need of the hour to ensure sustainability, profitability, and global competitiveness of the Indian cotton sector,” said M Ramasami, Chairman of Rasi Seeds, a veteran of over 50 years of experience in the seed industry. At the conference, Rasi Seeds signed several MoUs with the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), ICAR, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), and Annamalai University. The purpose of these MoUs is to promote farmer education programs such as cotton counseling through radio broadcasts to raise awareness on various topics such as Pink Bollworm threat management and research projects related to cotton yield improvement Paroda, Founder Chairman, Trust for the Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS), called for partnership in cotton research, which is key to sustainable growth of the cotton industry.

Charting a Better Path

DK Yadava, ADG (Seeds), ICAR, said, “Given the specific hurdles we face, collaboration among all stakeholders is critical to chart a major path forward. India’s potential is immense and requires a coordinated effort to address the problem of low productivity.YG Prasad, Director, CICR-Nagpur said, “Public-private partnership is now necessary to address the biotic and abiotic factors currently affecting the cotton plant.”FSII President Ajai Rana said, that India must adopt a science-based and impartial approach to innovative seed and biotech technologies.FSII Director General Ram Kandinya said continued investment in science and research is key to overcoming the challenges facing the cotton crop now. Geetha Lakshmi, VC, TNAU, and RM Kathiresan, VC, Annamalai University also shared their views on enhancing interaction between industry and institutes.

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