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Dear Editor:

I read with interest your cover story – Land, land everywhere, but…Industry can’t get it from Mars, yet.

    Agriculture productivity in India is half that  of China and a sixth of California’s.  For agriculture, we need sun, soil and water.  We have these in abundance.  Yet, India’s productivity is very low.  It is because of poor application of science and technology.

    India has 95 agricultural colleges and 15 agricultural engineering colleges. But, very few  of the graduates opt farming  as profession and career. The reason is simple:  

a career in agriculture is not remunerative.

Agriculture Consultancy Management Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation based out of Chennai, conducted an agricultural experiment in a farm about 25 km from Chennai.  Dr Lux Lakshmanan, an agricultural consultant at  Davis,  California advised ACMF to focus on soil testing and  correcting it for deficiencies in NPK as also micro nutrients like zinc, magnesium, potassium…It was also his finding that the soil needed deeper tilling.

In California tilling is for over  20 inches. In India it is less than 4 inches; alternatively Dr Lakshmanan advised forming ridges and furrows and planting on the ridges and applying water and fertilizers  in the furrows.

Innovative and improved drip irrigation was engineered to ensure  water to the saplings. This resulted in a jump in production of corn crop to over 4000 kg/acre, against the earlier productivity of 800 kg/ acre.

These experiments clearly drove home the lesson that science and technology must be applied to agriculture. We must encourage agriculture graduates with stipends and financial support to work in farms.  It is possible to increase agricultural productivity at least 3 to 4 times.

There is food shortage in the world. With increased productivity, India can get into the food export business. We also need to engineer safe and proper storage of agriculture produce, till it is used or sold.

– F C Kohli, Former Deputy Chairman,

Tata Consultancy Services

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