USAID to fund unique project to boost Indian agriculture | SupportBiz

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USAID to fund unique project to boost Indian agriculture

How to increase farm productivity to feed a burgeoning populace, how to use the existing farming methods and practices optimally - these and other critical issues related to Indian agriculture - will be taught to Indian students of agriculture in a unique partnership project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Under the project, titled Agricultural Innovation Partnership (AIP), students of agriculture will be taught new curriculum based on changing needs of the times, including on market trends, to turn them into 'market-ready graduates', an official said.

The AIP is a 'first-of-its-kind initiative committed to reducing rural poverty and hunger in the Indo-Gangetic plain by improving agricultural education and extension'. Under it, a consortium of Indian agricultural universities like Pusa Institute and Banaras Hindu University (BHU) will work in tandem with US universities like Cornell, Illinois and Georgia, and private enterprises like Tata Chemicals and Sathguru Management Consultants in capacity building of the teaching staff and students.

According to Prasanta K Kalita, an Indian-origin professor at the University of Illinois, students will be taught to innovate according to situations to 'make them ready to go to the field and solve problems'.

"We want to help students get problem-solving skills, so that along with industry, government and NGOs they can be part of a team," Kalita said, adding that the content would be adapted to the Indian system and needs and not be textbook-driven.

As part of the partnership, a separate institute of veterinary and animal health is being set up at Banaras Hindu University, and a state-of-the art bakery institute is being set up at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture and Technology in Meerut, said Professor C Ramasamy, National Project Co-ordinator of AIP.

"The emphasis will be on content, communication skills, to help make them a team member and take up ethnical issues at work and bring societal issues to classroom.... basically connect the students with society," said Robert J Hauser, Professor and Dean of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at an interaction with the press.

"The AIP is aimed at helping farmers prosper using innovative technologies, combined with optimum regulatory policies that increase farm productivity through better cropping practices and improved access to technologies and markets," according to a statement.

"AIP will leverage resources currently existing with private-sector partners for farm management and innovative technologies," it said.