Although they dominate this sector, government agriculture universities have not been able to sufficiently raise per hectare yields to best global levels
India’s government agriculture universities are one of the big disappointments of the post-independence national development effort. Although the apex-level Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), Delhi is credited with having master-minded the Green Revolution of the 1970s, it received great help from American agro-scientist Dr. Norman Borlaug, who introduced the Mexican dwarf wheat variety to India.
Yet despite the success of the Green Revolution, the plain truth is that average wheat and rice yields in India are a fifth of China and a tenth of France, Ukraine etc, and although 60 percent of the population is employed in the agriculture sector, it contributes a mere 17 percent of GDP.
This situation is not helped by the media-aversion of ICAR (estb.1929) and its affiliated 71 government agriculture universities. They have transformed into fortresses which resist all media enquiries into their governance and performance. Typically, they are defined by huge establishment expenses, low tuition fees for students, and large research budgets. And while their model farms sustained with best fertiliser and pesticide inputs showcase impressively high yields, they maintain minimal connect with rural communities and farmers. Some years ago, they abolished their ‘extension services’, i.e, application of research and laboratory know-how in wider fields beyond their campuses.