PROFILE OF PALLI SIKSHA BHAVANA
"If a true school is to be founded in India, the School must be from the beginning group. The School will make use of the best methods in agriculture, the breeding of livestock and development of village crafts. The teachers, students and people of the surrounding countryside will be related to each other with the strong and intimate ties of livelihood. They shall co-operate to produce all the necessities of their own existence."
The seed of Sriniketan was sown in the mind of Gurudev in 1890 when he was about 29 years old and was sent to Shilaidah by his father, Maharshi Devendranath Tagore to take charge of the family estates in eastern part of Bengal. There, for the first time, he came in close contact with the village life. The poverty and misery left a deep impression in his mind and he decided that he must do something for the rural people and began to sketch all kinds of plans in his mind. At Shilaidah he had learnt the lesson that “we cannot help merely by our willingness to help. There is nothing so dangerous as inexpert service”. Gurudev sent his son Rathindranath Tagore and a friend’s son Santosh Chandra Majumdar to Illinois, USA in 1906 to study Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, respectively.
In 1912, Rabindranath purchased the Kuthibari of Surul (present location of Rural Reconstruction Department - Palli Samgathana Vibhaga) which was a jungle infested and malaria ridden area.
In 1923, Dairy farm was shifted from Santiniketan to Sriniketan and Poultry and Goatery units were added. The Dairy was originally started in 1901 with some cows and buffaloes with the idea that it would not only solve the problem of supplying pure and clean milk to ashrama students but also by taking care of animals themselves, the ashrama students would gain some knowledge of animal husbandry.
Next important event in the genesis of agricultural education at Sriniketan was Tagore’s meeting with Leonard K. Elmhirst, an English youth, in 1920, while the latter was a student at Cornell University, U.S.A. Elmhirst fitted admirably to his plan who responded readily to share his work of bringing back life in its completeness to rural people. About that time a Japanese carpenter cum gardener Kashahara also joined.
The Department of Agriculture and Village Economics (later named Palli Samgathan Vibhaga - Department of Rural Reconstruction) was formally inaugurated on February 6, 1922 with Elmhirst as the first Director. Rabindranath was very happy and confided-to Elmhirst that he wanted two things most at his school - a good art department and a good school of agriculture. That happened on March 1, 1922.
In 1957, in accordance with the recommendation of the National Commission on Agriculture of which Elmhirst was a member, an Institute of Rural Higher Education was set up at the present site of the institute of Agriculture which was one of a few started all over India. The Institute offered a 3-year diploma course in rural services and a 2-year certificate course in Agriculture. The Institute was meant to produce rural leaders.
However, later in September 1, 1963, Palli Siksha Sadana (College of Agriculture) was set up offering 4-year degree course in Agriculture and 3-year degree course in Social Science.
Under the latest revised Act of the University, the college has been renamed as Palli Siksha Bhavana (Institute of Agriculture) in the year 1984.
The Bhavana comprises of nine departments viz.
1. Department of Agronomy
2. Department of Soil Science & Agricultural Chemistry
3. Department of Horticulture and Post Harvest Technology
4. Department of Agricultural Extension
5. Department of Plant Pathology
6. Department of Agricultural Entomology
7. Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding
8. Department of Animal Science
9. Department of Crop Physiology
10. Department of Agricultural Statistics
11. Department of Agricultural Economics
12. Department of Agricultural Engineering
The Bhavana Missions
1. To train competent leaders who can fulfill the educational, social, administrative and technological needs of the country particularly in agriculture and rural reconstruction.
2. To integrate the culture of our country with scientific knowledge.
3. To provide new opportunities in education which will bridge the gap between culture and work, humanities and technology, practical and ideal.
4. To carry forward potentialities of the pioneering experiments in the rural reconstruction at Sriniketan.
The departments and centers are performing commendable work in developing new courses and pursuing innovative research work by undertaking various projects in collaboration with leading national and international institutes like, IRRI, UNEP, NAARM, NCAP, IPNI, GOI, NHB, GOWB, DST, DAE, SAUs & ICAR as well as International Institute like IRRI, ICARDA.
The agricultural extension programme received further impetus with the establishment of full-fledged Soil Testing Laboratory (STL) in 1984 with the Grant in Aid assistance by the Dept. of Agriculture, Govt. of West Bengal, All India Coordinated Research Project on Weed Control sponsored by USDA-ICAR in 1986 and Rathindra Krishi Vigyan Kendra (RKVK) in October 1994 catering the training needs of farmers, farm-women and rural youth of the district empowered by the active role of experts of different departments as well as extension personnel. Since inception of Rural Agricultural Work Experience (RAWE) programme in 1997 for UG courses, Farmers-Scientists-Meeting cum Village camp is organized every year to get acquainted with the farmers’ problems and also help them to find a solution. In addition, Rural Field Experience Training placement programme of Multidisciplinary group of Agricultural Research Scientists from NAARM, Hyderabad has been conducted and evaluated since 1992. The intensive operational area of the extension programme covers 42 villages situated in Bolpur-Sriniketan and Illambazar community Development blocks.
As a pioneer center of rural extension at Sriniketan, the Institute of Agriculture (Palli Siksha Bhavana) has been keeping up the tradition of undertaking various programmes like 1) Environmental awareness and farming 2) Organic recycling and biomass production in villages 3) Integrated nutrient supply system 4) Food-fodder intercropping system 5) Popularization of the use of rock phosphate and vermicompost 6) Piggery among tribal people 7) Soil testing 8) Value added agriculture 9) Capacity building of rural woman and farm youth etc.
Most of its UG students successfully achieved ICAR-JRF for undertaking higher studies in leading SAUs and ICAR Deemed to be Universities. An appreciable number of PG students also qualified in the ICAR-NET and ARS.
In the research front, appropriate methodology of vermicomposting has been developed and it has been commercialized. The institute now is a nodal center for training on vermicomposting for farmers of eastern region. The technology of use of rock phosphate as direct P-fertilizer in different cropping system was developed and cow dung incubated rock phosphate proved better P-availability in soil. A food -fodder intercropping system also gave profitable return. TPS system of potato cultivation gained popularity among farmers. Diversified rice based cropping system has been developed with integrated manuring from local inputs. Integrated plant protection management particularly to control egg plant shoot and fruit borer with the use of pheromone traps as well as nematode diseases has been developed. Three high yielding lines-13541, IET 14142, and IET 14143, with an average yield of 4.5 tones/ha, much higher than the yield of local scented varieties have been developed through induced mutation. Four high yielding lines-IET 18024, 18025, 18025 and 18027 developed through cross breeding of aromatic Basmati varieties have been sent for all India Coordinated trials for their performance and necessary approval. Under All India Coordinated Weed Control Project (ICAR) integrated methods of weed control under different cropping systems have been recommended to farmers. A weed survey map has been drawn and sent to National Weed Science Institute for follow up action. A perceptible impact of the on-going programmes in the practices of farming community around Visva-Bharati has been achieved. Some of these are:
-Positive and encouraging shift in land use, crop combination/cropping pattern and coverage of commercial crops in the farming community.
-Adoption, retention and dissemination of advocated technologies particularly better crop varieties, chemical fertilizers, plant protection measures, multiple cropping, liming in soil, seed storage, raising oilseeds, pulses etc. to a great extent.
-Acceptance of allied agricultural enterprise like livestock and poultry keeping, fish culture, horticulture, sericulture etc. in the total farming system for additional income and employment generation.
-Establishment of linkage between farming community and other development bodies/agencies/ credit institution.
-Formation of effective field action groups around village societies.
Among the students amenities, the gymnasium has been equipped with modern tools, some foreign journals have been subscribed, and a Computer Laboratory has been set up particularly for UG, PG and Ph.D. students.
Challenges to be addressed
Agricultural scenario all over the world is undergoing a rapid change. In order to take full advantage of the changing global scenario and the WTO provisions, it is imperative to adjust domestic policies of the country. Automatically, a tune up in agricultural education, research and extension activities is warranted to respond to the signals of globalization. Visualizing this, the Institute not only intends but also practices to bring in a change in its teaching, research and extension activities continuously keeping pace with the time.
The mission of the Institute thus remains to carry on with an effort to address the following emerging problems.
I. Natural resource management
II. Post Production management and value addition
III. Diversification towards high value products
IV. Agribusiness management
V. Agricultural human resource development
VI. People’s participation and rural entrepreneurship development
VII. Precision farming
VIII. The Institute has a strong intention to build a command to provide leadership in the development of dry land agriculture
in Lateritic Belt of Eastern India in general, and West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand tract in particular.
The mission will be translated in different programmes to be implemented by various departments of the Institute.