The green revolution in wheat and rice, white revolution in milk, yellow revolution in oilseed and the “blue revolution” in fisheries have augmented the food basket of the country. But many technological challenges remain. First, despite the shrinking share (23%) of the agricultural sector in the economy, the majority of the labour force (nearly 60%) continues to depend on agriculture. About 75% of India’s poor people with low purchasing power live in rural areas and nearly 60% of the cultivated area is under rainfed farming. Hence, the National Agricultural Policy and the Tenth Five Year Plan place high priority on raising agricultural productivity as a means to achieve more rapid agricultural growth and reduce rural poverty. Secondly, stagnating/decelerating productivity growth and declining total factor productivity in agriculture have cast doubts on the resilience of the sector to meet the challenges of a more market-driven and competitive regime. Related to the issue of stagnating productivity is the obvious limited connection between input use and productivity growth performance. Thirdly, current unsustainable land and water use practices will lead to lower agricultural productivity in the future. Fourthly, ensuring economic and ecologically sound access to food to every Indian, while conserving and improving the natural resources and traditional wisdom, in a more competitive regime, is yet another challenge.
To address these challenges and to generate additional income and employment for the poor, the role of agricultural research and development, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has initiated National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) with the following objectives:
- To build the critical capacity of the ICAR as a catalyzing agent for management of change in the Indian NARS.
- To promote ‘production to consumption systems research’ in priority areas/ themes to enhance productivity, nutrition, profitability, income and employment.
- To improve livelihood security of rural people living in the selected disadvantaged regions through technology-led innovation systems, encompassing the wider process of social and economic change covering all stakeholders.
- To build capacity to undertake basic and strategic research in frontier areas of agricultural sciences to meet challenges in technology development in the immediate and predictable future.
To meet these objectives, the ICAR has accordingly designed four components under the NAIP for implementation across the country. AFPRO is awarded with one sub-project i.e., Research on Sustainable Rural Livelihood Security (SRLS).