India set to open agri centre in South Africa

India set to open agri centre in South Africa

India is all set to open up its first offshore agriculture extension centre in Africa, which will help local farmers adapt to new seeds and other technologies for crop improvement.

The maiden overseas Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) may be opened in South Africa within a few months, though the final decision will be taken after the finalisation of 12th plan, sources told Deccan Herald.

The KVK will help familiarise local farmers on the benefits of new seeds and livestock and advise them that adopting to new technologies would benefit them economically.

The ICAR currently funds 630 KVKs all over the country for aiding farmers. These centres are housed in ICAR institutes, state agriculture universities and non-governmental organisations. Each has 5-8 staff members depending on the need.

A year and a half ago, a KVK in the Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu conducted a training programme for Africa. The programme was attended by participants from Nigeria, Sudan, Namibia, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mali, Ghana and Kenya. The training was broadly on livestock and poultry services.

Setting up of its first overseas KVK was another mark of increasing global prominence for Indian farm research. In the last two months, three international meetings on agriculture with BRICS, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and Asia-Pacific countries gave a new outlook to agriculture research, which often comes under criticism.

While the BRICS meeting in August focused on new strategies for grain and cash crops as well as fisheries and animal products, the Asia-Pacific conference was on trans-boundary threats like Ug-99, a new disease that threatens wheat crop in Africa and Asia.

The cooperation with Asean nations includes several joint projects on fisheries, post-harvest loss and biotechnology.