Hindu Business Line | 25 June 2010
Consider this: Ethiopia is offering one acre of land on annual lease for just $1 for 100 years.
“We can grow pulses there and bring it back to the country,” Dr S. Ayyappan, Director-General of ICAR, said.
The ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) has said that Africa promises gold for agricultural entrepreneurs, scientists and academics.
He called upon academicians and entrepreneurs to look at the opportunity seriously. He also mooted the idea of sending teams comprising retired professors and scientists and entrepreneurs to explore the opportunity.
“You may not believe that some countries in the African continent are offering land for very cheap rentals. We can take advantage of this,” he said.
Dr Ayyappan was speaking at the Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU) which hosted the two-day conference of Deans of Agricultural Universities from across the country.
He asked the Deans to encourage entrepreneurs to tap such opportunities.
Quoting a recent survey, he said the Indian agricultural universities and colleges faced severe shortage of faculty, crippling academic and research activity. According to him, 50 per cent of all agricultural universities have vacancies of about 30 per cent. And three universities have more than 60 per cent vacancies and 19 have vacancies between 30-45 per cent and 15 universities, up to 30 per cent.
Faculty strength in agriculture and horticulture colleges was at 55 per cent and the strength in veterinary colleges was at 49 per cent.
Academicians are reluctant to take up professorship in north-eastern States, he said.
While cautioning the universities to upgrade quality of research and farm activity, he said the accreditation process would monitor all aspects.
“We have accredited 31 universities so far. Another eight are in the process. We are looking at revamping the curriculum. We have allotted Rs 422 crore to modernise the university farms and establish ICT infrastructure,” he said