Dr.K.V.Peter, the Realistic Vice Chancellor of Kerala Agricultural University is trying to place himself comfortably somewhere between a teacher, scientist, economist, farmer and a Vice Chancellor. The soft spoken visionary of Kerala Agricultural University speaks to ethrissur.com
Interview by Mr. C.T. William
W.J. "There is a criticism that Kerala Agricultural University has terribly failed in contributing any constructive output to the farmers of the state for the last 25 years of its existence" How do you react to this?
V.C. This is due to the high expectation of the people behind this criticism. it is so unfortunate that people of India especially we Keralaites are expecting every provisions from the government or the related organizations. As far as kerala Agricultural University is concerned we are not providers but creators or generators of developments in the areas we are expected to work. I hope that a general public disillusion of realities and level of performances are needed here.
W.J.Can you explain some of its contributions to state's farming community?
V.C.You know Kerala Agricultural University is one of the best of its kind.We have got excellent teachers, scientists and research scholars. Kerala Agricultural University is imparting its qualitative as well as meritorious contributions to the areas of education, extension, research and farm management. We have contributed the best planting materials and effective methodologies to the farming community. We have developed the first hybrid coconut from our Coconut Research Station at Pilicode. We have developed the best hybrid Panniyur Pepper from our Pepper Research Station at Panniyur and enhanced the quality of the internationally demanded "Black Gold". We have introduced the best management methods to control the weed menace in the back waters of Kuttanad. It was our scientists who formulated the effective bio agent,Weevil to control the Salvinia (Affrican Payal) that blocked the entire back waters of Kerala. We have created the best species of rice from our Rice Research Station at Pattambi. Our simple but great device "Coconut Dehusker" has become a revolution in the households of Kerala. Now even a child can dehusk a coconut easily.
W.J.But these contributions are confined to the four walls of the research laboratories. Is there any vital steps taken by Kerala Agricultural University to promote these outputs to the grass root level of the farmers?
V.C.Again I am reminding you the fact that Kerala Agricultural University is not a provider of any facilities. We are the creators or generators of ideas or what we call research outputs/findings. We are not marketing people. Marketing of our ideas and findings have to be operated by the Agricultural Department of the government. The present confusion with Kerala Agricultural University is that sometimes it is treated as governmental and in some other times it is treated as autonomous. In brief the identity of Kerala Agricultural University is yet to be clarified.
W.J.What is your opinion about the role of state government in promoting the research outputs of Kerala Agricultural University?
V.C.State government is doing its level best. But the social commitment of the people is more important. government is nothing but a catalyst. One thing you remember always that we can not replace hard work. We have to make our own conducive environment for a better transformation. Nobody will plough the land for you and nobody will bring you mellowed tomato or potato into your farm.
W.J.But in the recent coconut mite holocaust, the government however performed its level best, no coconut palm has survived the holocaust. Why? Who is responsible for this?
V.C.Regarding the coconut mite holocaust, I would like to say that it is the wrong delivery of the mite control measures that aggravated the problem. You may please understand the fact that Kerala Agricultural University can not provide you with climbers, sprayers and other infra structures for this venture. We can only orient people within our limitations.
W.J.The government have mobilized and provided the farmers with climbers, sprayers and all other required infrastructures. Even then the venture has failed. Why?
V.C.This is because of our lack of sincere interest or what I call a social commitment with the issue. In the case of coconut mite, what happened is this; farmers comfortably left the issue with the government or Kerala Agricultural University. Actually there lacked the mobilization of real farmer interest.
W.J.But in a country where the prices of farm produces are precariously slashing; Can you recommend the mobilization of farmer interest to these areas?
V.C.It is a matter of economics and competence of market. Now the market is vibrant. There are qualitative choices before the people. In such a situation, it is no wonder that the fittest and competent will survive. There has been a tremendous increase in the purchasing power of the consumer.
W.J.I think it is a matter of Globalization. There are offenders and defenders of Globalization. But what actually is the effect of Globalization upon agriculture? Adverse or favourable?
V.C.Again it is a matter of pure economics. Now people have the power of purchasing. No wonder they are after selections, varieties and qualities. The truth here is to find out the line that separate the producer and consumer. There should be an acceptable and viable correlation in between the producer and consumer.
W.J.We have discontinued many of our subsidies to the farmers as a part of our new economic policy. Do you encourage or discourage this policy?
V.C.No comment. This is a sensitive question to answer.
W.J.There prevails a controversy in filling up of the kole land (Paddy fields) and in the right of its utilization. Do you agree to the statement that the farmers have the right to utilize their land for any productive purposes they prefer to?
V.C.I don't find any controversy in it. If there is no profit in a business, naturally people will keep away from it. The main problem with the paddy cultivation is the acute shortage of a committed farm labour force. Paddy cultivation will never survive unless and until we get sufficient committed farm labour force.
W.J.But a documentary film produced by one of your scientists has claimed that paddy cultivation is highly profitable. How this happen?
V.C.I don't think so. If paddy cultivation is profitable more people would have entered the paddy fields.
W.J.What is the role of Kerala Agricultural University in the promotion as well as implementation of the state agriculture policies?
V.C.We are no policy formulators. We educate, research and conduct extension activities. What we need is good model farms. We are developing such model farms for the farmers.
W.J.Politics have become the final force in our society. How far this is applicable to the areas of academics and education?
V.C.Politics is a science. In its wider dimension it develops people and nation. When it become narrower, it decelerate the total development of people and nation. Because of its wrong direction and interpretation, simple issues are often made complex and unsolvable.
W.J.Media comments that Kerala Agricultural University is undergoing a very critical financial crisis. What actually is the main reason for this?
V.C.Financial crisis is a national reality. The government itself is under the grip of financial crisis. Kerala Agricultural University is a part of the government. So evidently there should be the crisis. I don't believe that the crisis is exclusively for Kerala Agricultural University.
W.J.Do you agree to the criticism that the UGC pay scale implementation and the voluminous ICAR funds blockade are the main reasons for this crisis?
V.C.We can not relate the financial crisis of Kerala Agricultural University with the UGC pay scale implementation of its teachers. As far as the teachers of Kerala Agricultural University is concerned, UGC pay scale and its benefits are their right. It is neither a luxury nor anybody's mercy . You may also note the fact that Kerala Agricultural University is the last institution that implemented UGC benefits when compared to others.
W.J.Kerala; the God's own country is known for its agrarian frame work. What will be the future of this frame work? Stable or shaky?
V.C.I hope that Kerala will go brighter. But we should give more importance to the rural Kerala. That is the real heart of agrarian Kerala.
W.J.In order to integrate an Agricultural Kerala, what specific policies are to be implemented?
V.C.There is no meaning in drafting policies. What we need is group dynamism. We people are all individually excellent. But we are very bad in groups. This disrupts our integration.
W.J.Being a renowned scientist and visionary, definitely you will have some vision about a healthy Agricultural State. Can you explain your vision?
V.C.I have a dream of hope. A dream of Ramarajya where Mahabali is permanently enthroned without the threats of Vamanas.
W.J.Thank you sir. Let your dream come true.