National Agricultural Research System
India has built up a fairly advanced agricultural research system. The Indian NARS is one of the largest systems in the world. The effective functioning of this system, in close association with education and extension systems, has greatly contributed to the rapid growth of agriculture after independence.
After independence, the research system has undergone some major changes. First, a number of State Agricultural Universities were established following the recommendations of the first Joint Indo-American Team in 1955. The first one was established in 1960 at Pantnagar in Uttar Pradesh and other States followed suit. There are now 37Agricultural Universities spread over different States. In addition, there are four National Institutes of the ICAR, which are involved in higher agricultural education at the postgraduate level. These are:
- Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi;
- Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar;
- National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal; and
- Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), Mumbai.
These Institutes have Deemed University status, and offer their own degrees and diplomas in agriculture and allied areas. There is also a Central Agricultural University (CAU) at Imphal to cater to the needs of North-Eastern States.
Second, on the basis of critical reviews and specific policy issues emanating from the recommendations of various Review Committees, the ICAR was reorganized first in 1965 to bring centrally sponsored research activities relating to crops, commodities, animal sciences, and fisheries under one umbrella. The Commodity Committees were abolished and their research institutes as well as those under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture were merged with the ICAR so that problems of agricultural research could be viewed in their totality. The rules and bye-laws of the Council were revised to make it functionally more effective, technically competent and autonomous. The Governing Body was reconstituted, making it pre-eminently a body of scientists and those with interest in or knowledge of agriculture. An eminent agricultural scientist was appointed as the Executive Head of the ICAR and was designated as the Director General.
An innovative programme known as the National Agricultural Research Project (NARP) was launched in 1979, with World Bank support, to strengthen the regional research capabilities of the Agricultural Universities to undertake location-specific and need-based research on the basis of identified agro-climatic zones. Finally, a major programme called the National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) was launched in 1997, with the World Bank support, mainly to consolidate the gains of NATP through technology assessment and refinement.
The ICAR System
Among the major scientific organizations in the country, ICAR is unique in having concurrent responsibility for both research and education. As an apex body at the national level, ICAR is mainly responsible for the promotion and coordination of agricultural research in the various branches of agriculture and allied sciences in the country. In addition to its promoting and coordinating roles, ICAR is also directly involved in undertaking research at the national level, basic as well as applied, on diverse problems facing production of crops, animals, fisheries, etc., with the objective of evolving new production technologies suited to different agro-climatic conditions.
The Famine Commission Report of 1880 led to the creation of the Departments of Agriculture at the Center as well as in the Provinces with the primary duties of undertaking scientific enquiry and improvement in agriculture apart from famine relief. Dr J.A. Voelcker, Consulting Chemist to the Royal Agricultural Society of England, laid the foundation for agricultural research in India in 1890s. His recommendations led to the appointment of the Imperial Agricultural Chemist in 1892, the Imperial Mycologist in 1901, and the Imperial Entomologist in 1903. This was the beginning of inducting scientific temper into agriculture. Most importantly, his work was instrumental for the establishment of the Imperial (now Indian) Agricultural Research Institute in 1905 at Pusa, Bihar. Agricultural Colleges were also established at Pune, Kanpur, Sabour, Nagpur, Coimbatore, and Lyallpur (now in Pakistan). Organized scientific research on the problems of livestock started with the establishment of the Imperial Bacteriological Laboratory (now known as Indian Veterinary Research Institute) at Mukteswar in 1889. This was preceded by the establishment of Veterinary Colleges at Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, and Lahore (now in Pakistan).