Agricultural Universities are getting SDGs-Ready

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In the second edition of the meeting on ‘Harness and harvest’-Agri and fisheries universities for sustainability, SCCN was proud to host very special guests in Dr KP Vishwanatha, Vice Chancellor from MPKV Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri, and Dr Gopal Krishna from Central Institute Fisheries Education CIFE, Mumbai. Other distinguished personalities of deans and directors included Dr Ashok Pharande, Dr Sunil Gorantiwar from MPKV as well as Dr Rajendra Valappil from CFEI among others. Dr Rajendra Shende, Chairman of SCCN and Mr Ashok Methil, professor of Agri-Business at MIT WPU and advisor to SCCN chaired and moderated the meeting.

It is clear that in today’s pandemic there are challenges to society on all fronts, which has cast a shadow on our resilience. One community which put the ‘pedal to the metal’ even during the lockdown were the ICAR associated universities and our steadfast farmers in general. The universities continued to make great efforts in research on making our farms resilient and strong and the farmer continued to plough the soil to ensure that our pandemic worries were not doubled. The universities are already at the forefront of sustainability for a long time and SCCN committed to sharing these successes at a national and global levels, linking them to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr Rajendra Shende, chairman of the TERRE Policy Centre demonstrated the initiative ofSmart Campus Cloud Network SCCN to the two Vice Chancellors. The chairman showed to the dignitaries, how the universities can be pioneers for meeting the SDGs and especially hold the baton for mainstreaming the ‘Agenda 2030’. Sharing information with each other on success stories, utilizing the IOTs (Internet of Things) and deploying sustainable energy and water use practices, certified by UNESCO.

SCCN encouraged the two universities to adopt sustainable practices in their campuses which serve as an inspiration to the youth and the farmers alike. We are much pleased by the positivity and drive to action that was shown by both universities. Both VCs and other dignitaries were enthusiastic towards sharing their stories of sustainability and research towards it.

MPKV Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth has the country’s second largest campus of 7000 acres and is very invested in reducing their carbon footprint, which has driven them to launch several plantations drives and several activities in environment sustainability, planting up to 3 lakh samplings yearly according to Vice Chancellor, Dr KP Vishwanatha. The University asked SCCN to aid it with its commitment to reduce its campus energy consumption by 50% through adopting solar panels and other energy reduction techniques. MPKV also showed a keen interest in understanding and accessing carbon credits, for which it asked for guidance from the Smart Campus Cloud Network (SCCN).

Dr Vishwanatha showered the audience with hope and inspiration while recounting the many goals in sustainability already achieved by the MPKV. The MPKV has been involved in several projects which are aimed at making the farms climate resilient through use of Internet of Things (IOT), doing their bit for the SDG 12 on Sustainable Consumption and production. Under the NAHEP or National Agricultural Higher Education Project, the MPKV has been focusing on making the farms productive and resilient.

Dr Sunil Gorantiwar further illustrated the focus on building the ‘Solar Villages’ as well as the deployment of Smart Technologies for sustainable irrigation management. MPKV has been involved in making their own ‘Doubling farmers Income’ projects for which it has adopted several villages as model villages.

CIFE is one of the four, deemed to be universities which currently comes under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Dr Gopal Krishna, VC of CIFE, was fully supportive and enthusiastic towards the sharing of their success stories at the SCCN platform. Dr Gopal gave a vote of confidence to the great efforts done by agriculture universities in the past and being an Institute of Importance, have led the way in ensuring that the students have the best learning outcomes even in these times of lockdown on campus learning. Being a constituent institute under the ICAR, CIFE has always been leading the way with research efforts in sustainable production among other fisheries universities in India. The Campus is a fertile ground for research on sustainable aquaculture and has done major work on SDG 13 on Climate Action and SDG 15 of Life on land by studying Carbon Sequestration under different aquaculture settings and several such projects.

The meeting further decided that it would be ideal to showcase the successes of these Universities at the college and university campus level first. Secondly, SCCN advisor, Mr Ashok Methil suggested that the constituent colleges of these universities should become a part of the Smart Campus network. The members of the meeting agreed strongly and a roadmap was set to increase the engagement and provide tailored solutions to the university’s problems while parallelly finding best practices and sharing them through the network.

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