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ICAR Panel Moots Research on Insects, Tech, Drones in Farming

ICAR Panel Moots Research on Insects, Tech, Drones in Farming

In a bid to reach at par with global standards, the ICAR is mulling over research in unconventional agriculture for students. The move is expected to encourage students to join research institutes.

Jabalpur: A high-level course review committee of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research has mooted introduction of research at postgraduate and doctorate levels on edible insects, their therapeutic usage as well asrobotic technology and drones in farming.

The high-level course review committee comprised seven agriculture experts, and their recommendations were handed over to the ICAR last week after deliberations at state-run Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (JNKVV) here.

The committee members comprised Dr Lingaraju S (nematology), Dr A Rehman (entomology), Dr B A Patel (nematology), Dr K T Rangaswamy (plant pathology), Dr Makarand Joshi (plant pathology), Dr S Swaminathan (entomology) and Dr AK Bhowmick (entomology). "Now the ICAR will take a call on incorporating the committee's recommendations in the higher level courses," a panel member said.

It was tasked to review the course curricula and syllabi for subjects covered under plant protection head - entomology (pest/insects), plant pathology (diseases), nematology (worms),apiculture (bee keeping) and sericulture (silkworm), committee convener Dr AK Bhowmick told PTI.

Bhowmick, professor and head of entomology department of JNKVV, Jabalpur said, "The committee had earlier met thrice in Jorhat (Assam), Anand (Gujarat) and Bengaluru (Karnataka) to review the syllabi."

"The protein content is high in some species of insects which are consumed in certain parts of the country -north-east, southern region. A certain percentage of the population eats edible insects including locusts, termites and caterpillars," the professor said.

"The study on therapeutic usage of insects is gaining steam abroad. So, to keep pace, we recommended that it be introduced in higher studies here," Bhowmick said, adding that therapeutic studies on insects included utilisation of honey bee, silk worm and lac insect.

Citing an example, he said honey bee venom is useful to treat arthritis, depression and epilepsy. In future, Bhowmick said students undertaking insect study courses stand a bright chance of getting absorbed in research institutions.

Besides, these students can go for insect farming for human and animal feed and medicinal purposes, he claimed. About robotic technology, he said it can be used for
harvesting and picking, weed control, spraying, sorting and picking in the farms.

Drone surveillance of crops will come handy in large farm plots as well as places affected by natural calamities or diseases, he said.

"The ICAR, through review of the syllabi for these subjects, wants to bring the research here at par with global standards," Bhowmick said.