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Asian Agri-History Foundation: Activities and Achievements during the


First Decade (1994-2004)
V K Agarwal, S L Choudhary, and S P S Beniwal
A-80 Shri Radha Puram, Opposite J ain Chaurashi Temple, Agra-Delhi Bypass Road,
Mathura 281 004, Uttar Pradesh, India; Secretary, Rajasthan Chapter of the AAHF and
Department of Plant Pathology, Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture & Technology
(MPUA&T), Udaipur 313 002 Rajasthan, India; and A22/7 DLF Phase I, Gurgaon 122 002,
Haryana, India, respectively
Summary
The Asian Agri-History Foundation (AAHF) was established singularly by Dr Y L Nene on
30 December 1994. At the same time, Dr Nene and a group of agricultural scientists
established a trust by the name of The Asian Agri-History Foundation Trust (AAHFT). Thus,
the AAHF completes its first 10 years in December 2004. During the first decade of its
establishment, a major emphasis was placed on (a) searching the activities pertaining to
agricultural history of South and Southeast Asia with the aim of learning the traditional
wisdom and the indigenous, time-testing technologies and (b) promoting research on
sustainable agriculture using these technologies. The above objectives were achieved by
publication of a quarterly J ournal of Asian Agri-History (AAH). Since 1997, it has been
published regularly and has thus far published 220 articles, which have covered information
on agricultural heritage of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and
China. In addition, the Foundation has published five classic texts as bulletins containing
translations and commentaries in English of five old manuscripts, four of Sanskrit (1000 to
2000 years old) and one Persian (350 years old). The Vrikshayurveda bulletin has been
translated into Hindi by Dr S L Choudhary of the Rajasthan Chapter of the AAHF, into
___________________________________________________________________________
VK Agarwal was Professor and Head, Department of Plant Pathology at GB Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar,
Uttaranchal, India
SPS Beniwal was formerly the Regional Coordinator, International Centre for Agriculture Research in Dry Areas, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

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Marathi by AAHF, and into Telegu by Prof Vedavati of Sri Venkateshwara University,
Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. The Trust has also supported research activities of research
scholars and students. Three seminars, one summer school and an orientation course on
agricultural heritage of India have been organized by the AAHF. Many old manuscripts and
books were collected for the AAHF library. Number of newspapers and magazines in
different languages meant for farmers have published information generated by the AAHF
bulletins and different issues of the J ournal of Asian Agri-History. The Indian Council of
Agricultural Research (ICAR) has approved introduction of a course on agricultural heritage
of India in the undergraduate curriculum of agricultural universities from the academic
sessions 2004/05. The activities of AAHF are being supported by voluntary financial support
from its founder Chairman, members of the Trust, donors, ICAR, and journal subscribers.
I. Introduction
The regions of South and Southeast Asia had generally provided food security to its
population for several millennia, with only occasional famines in a few limited pockets (due
primarily to drought). Farmers in the region had evolved some of the most sustainable
agricultural management technologies suitable for different agroecoregions. In recent years
however, South and Southeast Asia have often been projected as food-deficient regions
where mass-scale starvation could occur in the future despite the fact that modern
technologies have been adopted over large areas. Ironically, in the past few years, the
sustainability of agriculture by following modern technologies have been questioned, and
with good reason. How can we make the agriculture in South and Southeast Asia sustainable?
The Asian Agri-History Foundation (AAHF), a non-profit Trust, was therefore established by
Dr YL Nene (read his biographic sketch in the box on page --SLC) and registered in 1994 to
facilitate dissemination of information on agricultural history; to promote research on
sustainable agriculture in South and Southeast Asia region; to learn from the traditional
wisdom and the indigenous, time-tested technologies. It is expected that these will provide
clues for (i) understanding how farmers adjusted to changing environment in the past, and (ii)
developing appropriate technologies leading to prosperous, sustainable agriculture (Asian
Agri-History, 2003). The major objectives of the Foundation are: (i) to disseminate
information on the history of agriculture in the South and Southeast Asia region, and (ii) to
stimulate interest in research on the history of agriculture in Asia with a special focus on
South and Southeast Asia.
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A function to formally inaugurate the AAHF was held on 19 November (Tuesday) 1996 at
17:00 hrs at the India International Centre, New Delhi in conjunction with the International
Crop Science Congress. Dr R S Paroda, then the Director General, Indian Council of
Agricultural Research (ICAR) was the Chief Guest. Dr R L Paliwal, then the Director of
Maize Program at the International Center on the Improvement of Wheat and Maize
(CIMMYT) in Mexico and Trustee of AAHF, chaired the function. More than 150 persons
including six of the eleven trustees, several donors and advisors attended the function. Dr Y L
Nene, Chairman of AAHF welcomed the guests and introduced the trustees, advisors, editors,
and donors who were present at the function. This was followed by the formal release of the
Foundations first publication, a Bulletin titled Surapalas Vrikshayurveda (The Science
of Plant Life by Surapala). In the inaugural address, Dr Paroda emphasized the need to know
the past well so that our present and future researches become meaningful. Dr S P S Beniwal,
________________________________________________________________
Dr Y L Nene: Biographic Sketch
Yeshwant Laxman Nene was born in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh in 1936. He received his primary and
secondary education from the same city. He did his undergraduate education in agriculture at Gwalior
and post-graduate education in plant pathology at the Agricultural College, Kanpur. He received his B Sc
and M Sc degrees in 1955 and 1957 from Agra University (Uttar Pradesh, India) to which the colleges at
Gwalior and Kanpur were affiliated. He pursued his advanced education in plant pathology at the
University of Illinois and was awarded the PhD degree by the University of Illinois, USA in 1960 for his
work on plant viruses. He started his professional career in 1960 as Assistant Professor and the founder
of the Department of Plant Pathology, UP Agricultural University [now GB Pant University of
Agriculture and Technology (GBPUA&T)], Pantnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India. He served as the first
Professor and Head of the same Department from 1969 to 1974. In 1974, he was invited to join
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, Andhra
Pradesh, India as Principal Plant Pathologist. Later in 1980 he became Leader, Pulses Research and in
1986, the Program Director Legumes. In 1989, he was appointed the Deputy Director General of
ICRISAT, a position that he held till he voluntarily opted to prematurely retire in 1996 to devote full time
to the Asian Agri-History Foundation.

Dr Nene, while working at GBPUA&T, solved the mystery of khaira disease of rice and established that it
was caused by zinc deficiency, and also pioneered systemic research on viral diseases of pulses. At
ICRISAT, he solved the mystery of wilt complex of chickpea (gram) and developed multiple-disease
resistance-screening techniques and disease-resistant varieties of pulses. He supervised the research of 26
M Sc and Ph D students and inspired many a young students and scientists. He has communicated more
than 470 scientific publications, including research and scientific articles, books Fungicides in Plant
Disease Control and The Pigeonpea, and an excellent pictorial bulletin Tomato Disorders:
Identification Handbook.

Dr Nene received several awards/honors, notably being the International Rice Research Prize by the Food
and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in 1967; Shri Om Prakash Bhasin Award in Science and
Technology in 1992; the Indian Society of Pulses Research and Development (ISPRD) Award in 1994;
ISPRD Gold Medal in 2001; and Honorary Doctor of Science degree by GBPUA&T, Pantnagar in 1991.
He is a Fellow of many professional societies including the American Phytopathological Society. He
delivered the prestigious Glen Anderson Lecture in the Plenary Session of the International Congress of
Plant Pathology in Montreal, Canada. He has traveled to more than 60 countries for professional work
and is recognized internationally as a stalwart in agriculture, a leader in grain legumes research, and
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authority in pulses pathology. The Indian Society of Mycology and Plant Pathology, Udaipur, India has
instituted a Medal in the name of Dr Nene, which is annually given to recognized outstanding Plant
Pathology teachers in India.

Dr Nene is one of those rare individuals who pursue their interests to the fullest and thus create history. It
was during his student days at the University of Illinois, USA and during the teaching and research
career at the agricultural university in Pantnagar, India that he developed an interest in the history of
Indian agriculture. This interest was further strengthened during his research and management career at
ICRISAT. Through the readings of the old agricultural literature, he developed good understanding of
the importance of available information and its relevance to the present-day agriculture. He was amazed
to realize the soundness of our agricultural heritage, which was not even mentioned in agricultural books
including the modern western ones. He also realized that the scientists and students were unaware of our
rich agricultural heritage. It is because of this reason that in 1963 one of his early postgraduate students
at G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology (GBPUAT), Pantnagar worked on the antifungal
properties of Anagallis arvensis plant. Although he continued enriching his knowledge and understanding
of the subject, he postponed the idea of creation of an organization to deal with this subject for a later
date. But it was on 30 December 1994 that he established the AAHF and a Trust, the Asian Agri-History
Foundation Trust (AAHFT) with one staff member to manage its activities. He was whole-heartedly and
unanimously elected as the first Chairman of the AAHFT. And it was in December 1996 that Dr Nene
took early, voluntary retirement from ICRISAT to devote full time to his passion, and to the affairs of the
Foundation as its Chairman as well as the Managing Editor of the Journal, Asian Agri-History. It is even
after a decade that the activities of AAHF are fully managed and whole-heartedly supported by Dr. Nene
in collaboration with and support of all the AAHF trustees. But, it should be emphasized that it is his
dedication and zeal that continues to show the Foundation the right path of progress, and has thus
prepared a solid base of this important mission to serve the Indian agricultural heritage as the foundation
for future research and development in agriculture.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Trustee, then the Regional Coordinator, Highlands Regional Program, International Centre
for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Ankara, Turkey, thanked all the guests.
The function was followed by a dinner.
The AAHF now has two regional chapters, namely, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Chapters.
This was done to increase activities of the Foundation on a regional basis. It was in 2000, at
the suggestion of Dr S L Choudhary of the Rajasthan College of Agriculture, Maharana
Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology (MPUA&T), Udaipur, Rajasthan, that the
Rajasthan Chapter was established. The trustees of AAHF approved the idea of having
Regional Chapters and had set up the following guidelines for establishing a Regional
Chapter. These are (i) normally there will not be more than one Chapter in any one state; (ii)
there should not be less than 50 subscribers to the Asian Agri-History J ournal in the
particular state; (iii) a Chapter can be set up at a location in a state where at least 20
subscribers reside; (iv) a formal request for setting up a Chapter should originate from a
group of subscribers; (v) the group, making the request to set up a Chapter, should confirm its
genuine interest in promoting the objectives and activities of the AAHF. Thus, at the request
of Dr S L Choudhary, the trustees of AAHF approved the formation of the first Chapter, the
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Rajasthan Chapter, in Udaipur in November 2000. Dr P L Agarwal, Ex-Chairman, Steel
Authority of India in the presence of Dr Nene formally inaugurated the Chapter on 16
December 2000. The Executive Committee of this Chapter included Dr K N Nag (Chairman),
Dr S L Choudhary (Secretary), Dr P D Gemawat (Treasurer), and Dr M M Simlot, Dr B S
Chundawat, late Sri Abdul Basit, and Dr Abhishek Shukla (Members). The Chapter
membership of 32 in 2000 has increased to 65 in 2004. The second Chapter was inaugurated
in Indore, Madhya Pradesh in J uly 2004.
II. AAHF
(A) Foundation Office
The activities of AAHF are being carried out from its Headquarters located in an annexe to
the residence of Dr Nene at 47, ICIRSAT Colony-I, Brig. Sayeed Road, Secunderabad 500
009, Andhra Pradesh, India. This spacious office room is properly equipped with all the
modern facilities. Presently, there are four regular staff members at the Foundation HQ, viz.,
Mrs. Sheila Vijayakumar, Ms Lalitha Annapoorna, Mr. Anil Kumar, and Mr. Surya Prakash.
This office also accommodates the AAHF library. Dr Nene charges one rupee as nominal rent
for the office space.

(B) AAHF Trust
The AAHF Trust (AAHFT) was established and registered vide Trust Deed No. 1695 dated
30 December 1994 by Dr Y L Nene and a group of agricultural scientists including S N
Nigam, P M Tamboli, R L Paliwal, S P S Beniwal and Mrs. Sheila Vijayakumar. The first
formal meeting of the AAHF Trust was held on 7 J anuary 1995 at Dr Y L Nenes residence
(47, ICIRSAT Colony, Secunderabad), which was attended by Dr Y L Nene, Dr S N Nigam,
Mrs. Sheila Vijayakumar, Mrs. Prabha Nene (special invitee), and the late Mr. P S J adhav.
(C) Trustees of the Foundation
Dr Y L Nene was the first trustee of the AAHF. Now, there are 11 trustees with Dr Nene as
the Chairman of the Trust. The other trustees are B L Agarwal, K Anand Kumar, S P S
Beniwal, S N Nigam, R L Paliwal, Purnima Raste, M C Saxena, Gajendra Singh, MVK
Sivakumar, and P M Tamboli. The trustees have set a target of Rs one crore (Rs. 10 million)
for the corpus fund, so that the foundation has a sound financial base. The Chairman of the
AAHFT Dr Nene had contributed an initial amount of Rs 15,00,000 on 30 December 1994,
and each corpus trustee an amount of Rs 1,00,000 (one lakh) towards the corpus fund.
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The AAHF also has donors and each donor has contributed Rs 30,000. In addition, a
number of other individuals have contributed towards the funds of AAHF. These include
Corporate donors: Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Limited (MAHYCO, Mumbai), and
S M Sehgal Foundation (Gurgaon), and Individual donors: I P Abrol, V D Aggarwal, D S
Bisht, A R Dasgupta, C G Gairola, C L L Gowda, S C Gupta, A K S Huda, Suman J oshi, J K
Ladha, Uma Lele, R S Malhotra, D R Mohan Raj, Murari Singh, D S Murthy, Sudhanshu Y
Nene, Bharati K Patel, M R Pimpalapure, S Rajaram, N P Rajasekharan, V Ramanatha Rao,
M R Rao, D V R Reddy, K L Sahrawat, R Seshadri, S V R Shetty, B B Singh, (late) K B
Singh, Laxman Singh, P Subrahmanyam, G Thottappilly, S M Virmani, and S S Virmani.
The corpus fund now stands Rs 43,73,500.
The trustees normally meet once in a year. The annual meetings of the trustees were held on 7
J anuary 1995, 12 August 1995, 21 April 1996, 19 April 1997, 8 February 1998, 10 April
1999, 12 August 2000, 20 October 2001, 7 August 2002 and 21 November 2003. And the
trustees communicate amongst themselves and with the Chairman AAHF through e-mails.

(D) Advisors to the Foundation
The AAHF has voluntary and honorary advisors, who regularly advise/provide information to
the Foundation in fields of their specialization. They are, namely, K Narayana Murthy
(Finance), S M Sinha (Art and Printing), and S L Choudhary and D M Pawar (Public
Relations). In addition, there are advisors to manage the international journal published by
the Foundation, details of which are provided under (G) Activities of the Foundation.
(E) Foundation Website
AAHF asked Messers Niha Communications, Hyderabad to develop and maintain a website
of the Foundation (www.agri-history.org). This website of the Foundation is being visited
by a large number of Internet browsers from India and many other countries. A complete
redesign of the website has been planned for 2005.
(F) Activities of the Foundation
The major activities of the Foundation include: (i) publishing an International quarterly
journal called Asian Agri-History; (ii) publishing translations of old manuscripts/papers into
English; (iii) encouraging and supporting research in universities and other institutions; (iv)
promoting inclusion of a course on Agri-History in the undergraduate curriculum of
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agricultural universities; (v) organizing seminars, conferences, and lectures to promote
exchange of information and collaboration among interested scholars, and (vi) establishing a
database library in the Foundation dealing with publications on the history of Asian
Agriculture.
a. Publication of an international journal Asian Agri-History (AAH)
Asian Agri-History (AAH), an International J ournal of History of Asian Agriculture
including Environment, is being published quarterly in English by the AAHF to promote
understanding of all historical aspects of the development of agriculture in South and
Southeast Asia from the earliest known records until the modern times (20
th
century).
Contributions to the journal are research based, observational or theoretical and concern
terrestrial or aquatic and managed or natural agro ecosystems. The journal also considers
publication of contributions based on original research, both full-length papers and short
communications. Thus, the journal includes the history of agricultural engineering,
agroastrnomy, agroclimatology, agroforestry, agrogeography, animal husbandry, crop
diversification, crops (field, horticultural, etc.), cultivation practices, harvesting, threshing,
processing, intercropping, irrigation, plant protection, seed, sowing, soil sustainable
agricultural system, useful plants, women, etc. to have a link with our own agri-heritage, Dr
Nene introduced a commentary on Current Research and Agri-Heritage with first series of
Vol. 7 (2003) No. 2. These articles pertain to materials and/or practices that were documented
in our ancient and medieval texts. The summaries of the results of such researches are being
dealt in relevance to agricultural heritage. Articles appearing in the journal are abstracted and
indexed globally in AGRIS Database of FAO and Geographical Abstracts, Human
Geography and Geobase. The journal, when launched in 1997, was managed by P M Tamboli
(Chief Advisor), William Dar, G Gunasekara, Bashir A Malik, Ibrahim Manwan, K L Mehra,
Shiva B Nepali, A Z M Obaidullah Khan, R S Paroda, S Parthasarathy, Paul S Teng, Pham
Van Bien, E E Saari, Toe Aung, and L J G van der Maesen (International Advisory Board), R
L Paliwal (Editor-in-Chief), Y L Nene (Managing Editor), J J Abraham, I P Abrol, Ajay
Varadachary, V Balambal, S K Chitaley, C L L Gowda, R J ayerajan, Y J oshi, Rekha Pande,
Meenal Paranjpe, Nalini Sadhale, M V Reddy, B B Sahni, H C Sharma, K B Singh, K
Vijayalakshmi, and S M Virmani (Honorary Editor). The journal is being currently managed
by P M Tamboli (Chief Advisor), L Falvey, G Gunasekara, J S Kanwar, K L Mehra, R S
Paroda, S Parthasarathy, and L J G van der Maesen (International Advisory Board), R L
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Paliwal, (Editor-in-Chief), Y L Nene (Managing Editor), I P Abrol, Ajay Varadachary, C L L
Gowda, Rekha Pandey, Nalini Sadhale, H C Sharma, and S M Virmani (Honorary Advisors).
The journal is regularly published every quarter in four issues: No. 1 (J anuaryMarch), No. 2
(AprilJ une), No. 3. (J ulySeptember), and No. 4 (OctoberDecember). They are normally
dispatched in J anuary, April, J uly, and October, respectively. The first issue of the journal
was published in March 1997. Dr S J Kolte from GBPUA&T, Pantnagar was the first
subscriber of the journal with registration No. Ind-1/1997. The number of subscribers to the
journal increased from 317 in February 1997 to 467 in 2004. [Individual: 375 Corporate: 92].
Mr. K K Ranade, Executive President, Petron Engineering Ltd. Mumbai, India has been
sponsoring subscribers to over 100 persons from 1997 onwards.
Since inception, the journal is being printed and published by Dr Y L Nene on behalf of
AAHF. It is printed at Kala J yothi Process Limited, 1-1-60/5, Iftekar Mansion Lane, RTC
Cross Roads, Musheerabad, Hyderabad 500 020, Andhra Pradesh, India, and published at the
AAHF office.


b. Publishing English translations of old agricultural manuscripts
The classic literature pertaining to agricultural heritage of India is available in Sanskrit,
Persian, and other languages. It was, therefore, considered essential to translate these into
English and publish them as Agri-History Bulletins so that the present generation could have
access to the rare literature, which has been unavailable so far. Important old manuscripts are
procured from libraries in India and elsewhere and then translated into English by pertinent
experts who have a sound knowledge of the concerned language and English. In this
direction, Dr Nene initiated these activities by procuring first a rare manuscript, Surapalas
Vrikshayurveda, from the Bodleian Library at Oxford in UK in 1994. So far, the Foundation
has produced five Agri-History Bulletins in English.
(i) Surapalas Vrikshayurveda (The Science of Plant Life)
This was the first Bulletin to be translated in English and published in 1996 in the Agri-
History Bulletin series of AAHF. The original manuscript by Surapala was written on palm
leaves in Sanskrit around 1000 AD and is preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford
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University, UK. Dr Nalini Sadhale, Retired Professor and Head of Department of Sanskrit,
Osmania University, Hyderabad, India translated the manuscript into English in 1996. The
Bulletin contains the original text in Sanskrit and its translation in English, and commentaries
on the scientific content of the text by three well known agricultural scientists, namely, Drs K
L Mehra, S M Virmani, and YL Nene. The Bulletin contains 1000-year old recipes for high
yields of fruits and vegetables. Surapala suggested several plant protection practices. Almost
all the plant species mentioned by him have biocidal properties. Honey, mustard, and licorice
too possess antimicrobial properties. Cow dung, which usually gets mixed with urine, also
has antiseptic properties. Moreover, cow dung can promote biological control. Milk could
also help in biological control of pathogens (Sadhale, 1996).
(ii) Krishi-Parashara (Agriculture by Parashara)
This Bulletin, published by AAHF in 1999, is an English translation of an original Sanskrit
text composed by the sage Parashara about 2000 years ago. The bulletin has three sections:
original Sanskrit text, translation into English by Dr Sadhale Nalini, and commentaries on
meteorological aspects by Mr. H V Balkundi and on general agriculture by Dr Y L Nene. It
includes ancient models for predicting rainfall, construction of a plow and other implements,
management of cattle, seed storage, and farm operations (Sadhale, 1999).
(iii) Nuskha Dar Fanni-Falahat (The Art of Agriculture)
This Persian manuscript, compiled by a 17
th
century Mughal prince, Dara Shikoh, was
translated in English by the late Dr Razia Akbar, Professor and Head, Department of Persian,
Osmania University, Hyderabad, India and was published in 2000. The Bulletin consists of
the original Persian text and English translation and commentaries based on scientific
scrutiny by Drs K L Mehra, J S Kanwar, K L Chadha, and Y L Nene. It includes
recommendations for growing about 100 horticultural and field crops, some of which are still
the followed (Akbar, 2000).
(iv) Kashyapiyakrishisukti (A Treatise on Agriculture by Kashyapa)
The Sanskrit text, originally written around 800 AD and obtained from the Adyar library in
Chennai, India was translated in English by Dr S M Ayachit, and reviewed by Dr Nalini
Sadhale. The bulletin contains two commentaries, one by Dr Sadhale and the other by Dr Y L
Nene. The manuscript contains recommendations for identifying fertile soils, constructing
water reservoirs, growing irrigated rice, growing various upland crops, growing vegetables,
selecting and managing cattle, practicing agriculture irrespective of caste affiliation, and to
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learn about ancient popular crop varieties, and prescribed balanced diet for humans. The
bulletin was published and released during the National Conference at Udaipur in February
2002 (Ayachit, 2002).
(v) Vishvavallabha (Dear to the World: The Science of Plant Life)
Vishvavallabha was written by a scholar, Chakrapani Mishra in 1577 AD, during the reign of
the great Maharana Pratap of Mewar (Udaipur). It was written in Sanskrit. Dr S L Choudhary
obtained a hand-written copy of the manuscript from the library of Rajasthan Prachya Vidya
Pratishthan, J odhpur, Rajasthan, India. Dr Nalini Sadhale translated the manuscript in English
and Drs Sadhale and Y L Nene wrote commentaries on the contents. The manuscript focuses
attention on the Mewar and Marwar regions of Rajasthan and contains recommendations for
detecting underground water, breaking rocks while digging wells, harvesting rain water,
construction of water reservoirs, growing horticultural crops, management of crop disorders,
and forgotten techniques for producing horticultural wonders. The Bulletin was released in
2004 in Udaipur, Rajasthan by Sriji Arwind Singh Mewar, a direct descendent of the great
Maharana Pratap.

c. Provide research support
To encourage experiments on Vedic concepts in agriculture and find out technologies for the
benefit of the farmers and the society as a whole, the AAHF has provided limited financial
assistance but liberal technical know-how to a number of scientists in India. However, there
is a tremendous scope for taking up detailed model trials by different crop improvement
coordinated projects of the ICAR. This is one way of encouraging young scientists to take up
lead in this direction. Financial assistance has been provided by AAHF to Mr. Manoj K
Tiwari, National Council of Development Communications, Varanasi for his Ph. D. thesis on
Cattle management practices in ancient India and its rationality in modern context: a critical
study.
d. Organizing seminars, conferences, field days, lectures to promote heritage of Indian
Agriculture
The Foundation has been very active in spreading the message of agricultural heritage of
India through organizing seminars, conferences, and delivering lectures since initiation of the
activities of AAHF. These have been successfully organized through keen interest, leadership
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and vision of Drs Nene and Choudhary. The proceedings of the above activities have been
published to serve as references.
(i) Summer school on the ancient and medieval history of Indian agriculture and its
relevance to sustainable agriculture in the 21
st
century
A 3-week Summer School financed by the ICAR was organized from 28 May to 17 J une
1999 at Rajasthan College of Agriculture, MPAU&T, Udaipur on Ancient and Medieval
History of Indian Agriculture and its Relevance to Sustainable Agriculture in the 21
st
century.
Drs Y L Nene, S L Choudhary and G S Sharma, Dean, Rajasthan College of Agriculture,
actively participated in organizing the School. There were 28 participants (faculty members
from agricultural Universities and institutes) from all over India. Dr Nene delivered nine
lectures. In all, 35 scholars delivered lectures. These lectures mainly pertained to ancient and
medieval history of Indian agriculture and their relevance to sustainable agriculture in the
present century. Lectures delivered at the School were published as a book by Rajasthan
College of Agriculture (Choudhary et al., 2000).
(ii) Seminar on Vedic agriculture
The Rajasthan Chapter of AAHF, in collaboration with AAHF Headquarter, organized a
Seminar on Vedic Agriculture on 10 August 2001 at Agricultural Research Station of the
Rajasthan Agriculture University at Durgapura (near J aipur, Rajasthan). Smt Kamala
Beniwal, Minister of Sanskrit Education and Irrigation, Government of Rajasthan, was the
Guest of Honor, and Dr C P S Yadav, Vice-Chancellor, Rajasthan Agriculture University,
Bikaner, presided over the inaugural function of the Seminar. J ustice V S Dave and Dr S L
Choudhary were the Organizing Chairman and Organizing Secretary, respectively. Dr Y L
Nene, Chairman AAHF and Dr S P S Beniwal, a Trustee of the foundation, were present at
this occasion. Around 180 scholars from different parts of the country participated in the
Seminar. The following recommendations emerged from the Seminar:
Efforts should be made through media to make the common public aware of the treasure
of vast knowledge already available in the Vedic literature on agriculture and the
importance of such Vedic knowledge to improve present-day agriculture.
Experts in Sanskrit and other languages, agricultural scientists, and experienced farmers
should work together and gather knowledge from the ancient and medieval literature on
agriculture, Ayurveda, and allied subjects.
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Agricultural researchers of different institutes should initiate experiments on the Vedic
concepts in agriculture and find out technologies for the benefit of the farmers and the
society as a whole.
It was strongly felt that the young generation should be educated about Vedic concepts in
agriculture. For this, agricultural universities should consider starting course(s) on
agricultural heritage of India.
(iii) National Conference on Agricultural Heritage of India
A 3-day National Conference on Agricultural Heritage of India sponsored by the ICAR, the
Rajasthan Chapter of AAHF and the AAHF Headquarter, was organized from 10 to 13
February 2002 at the Rajasthan College of Agriculture, MPUA&T, Udaipur. The Conference
was an effort to bring together on one platform, agricultural scientists, Sanskrit and
Ayurvedic scholars, and others interested in Indian agricultural heritage to exchange
information and views to: (i) increase awareness about agricultural heritage of India, (ii)
stimulate scientific research based on traditional technology, and (iii) implant a sense of pride
amongst the people, particularly agricultural students. The main theme of the conference was
to rediscover our past heritage of sustainable agriculture and blend useful practices with
modern agriculture to avoid environmental pollution and degradation of natural resources.
The Vedic agriculture traditions are based on certain key precepts such as living in harmony
with nature. The Honorable Governor of Rajasthan, J ustice Anshuman Singh released the
Proceedings of the Conference on September 20, 2002. (Nene and Choudhary, 2002). The
major recommendation of the Conference were as follows
There is a need to include information on our agricultural heritage in courses and
curricu1a of agricultural universities. Courses on agricultural heritage can be planned and
taught to undergraduates.
The research leaders in agricultural universities, institutes, and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) should encourage research on ancient and medieval technologies
and practices. Special funds could be earmarked for research on such studies.
Public media (newspapers, journals, magazines, radio, and TV, etc) should highlight
results of research on old technologies and practices to increase public awareness about
our rich heritage.
A majority of Indian farmers still follow the Panchangas (almanacs) and some key field
operations are linked to zodiac signs and constellations. Local predictions of monsoon
13
rainfall, based on panchangas, are as good as the forecasts made by the India
Meteorology Department (IMD). There is a need for cooperative research by
meteorologists and astrologers to improve accuracy of local rainfall prediction.
Soil health is the key resource. Old practices do ensure good soil health on a sustainable
basis, which should be studied and utilized. Organic manure application must be
encouraged and indiscrete use of fertilizers and pesticides should be discouraged.
The Agri-History bulletins (published by AAHF) containing information and medieval
agriculture should be translated from English to Indian languages. The Rajasthan Chapter
could take a lead in translating these bulletins in Hindi.
The AAHF should plan to hold a multidisciplinary workshop to discuss cooperative
research areas and arrive at a consensus on chronology of agri-history.
The ICAR should continue to support agri-history activities.
(iv) Orientation course on Indian agricultural history
The Rajasthan Chapter of the AAHF (RC-AAHF) and MPUA&T, Udaipur organized an
orientation course on Indian Agricultural History from April 22 to May 5, 2003 for students
and staff of the University. Dr S L Choudhary, Secretary, RC-AAHF organized the course
with support from Dr K N Nag, Chairman, RC-AAHF and Dr G S Sharma, Dean, College of
Agriculture. Several invited lectures were also arranged, which included lectures by Dr Y L
Nene, and Padmashri Mt T G K Menon. Dr R P Singh, Vice-chancellor of MPUAT, presided
over the Valedictory function.
(v) Field day
A Field Day was organized on September 18, 2003 at Horticultural Farm, Rajasthan College
of Agriculture, MPAU&T, Udaipur, India. The objective was to demonstrate the utility of
Gliricidia to farmers and distribute its seedlings free of cost to the farmers. The Field Day
received good response from the farmers, who expressed their appreciation to the organizers.
(vi) National Seminar on Cow in Agriculture and Human Health
A 1-day National Seminar on Cow in Agriculture and Human Health was organized by the
RC-AAHF at Agricultural Research Station, MPUAT, Ummedganj, Kota on December 16,
2003. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi, and P I
Industries, Udaipur supported this Conference. The objective was to assess (i) status of cow
in ancient India and its potential in the present context, (ii) unearthing of ancient knowledge
14
on cow and its products, and (iii) future strategies for research and development of cow and
its products. Around 150 participants from different parts of the country attended the
Seminar. Mr. A P Singhal and Dr S L Choudhary were the Organizing Chairman and
Secretary, respectively. The bulletin Vrikshayurveda by Surapala, translated by Dr S L
Choudhary in Hindi, was also released at the inaugural function of the Seminar.
(vii) Agnihotra demonstration on 10 February 2004 by Sukhadia Rangmanch by Ms.
Karin Heschll.
SLC: Please insert a couple of sentences on this.

(viii) Translation of AAHF bulletins into other languages
Based on the recommendation of the National Conference on Agricultural Heritage of India
held at MPUA&T, Udaipur, for translating the AAHF bulletins into other Indian languages,
the bulletin Vrikshayurveda was translated by Dr S L Choudhary of MPUA&T into Hindi,
and by Prof Vedavati of Sri Venkateshwara University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh into
Telugu.
(ix) International conference on agricultural heritage of Asia
A 3-day International Conference on Agricultural Heritage of Asia is planned at National
Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) at Rajendra Nagar, Hyderabad
from December 68, 2004. The conference will be jointly sponsored by the ICAR and AAHF
in collaboration with the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad.


(x) Lectures
Dr Y L Nene, even prior to establishment of the AAHF in 1994, elaborated the richness of
Indian agricultural heritage through one to one contact, one to a group contact, and also
through lectures to large groups. He delivered his first lecture on Rich Heritage of South
Indian Agriculture as the third Dr Ch. Krishna Moorthy Memorial Lecture at the Central
Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) on 31 J anuary 1997. Since then, he has
delivered a series of lectures on different aspects of heritage of Indian agriculture throughout
India in different conferences, seminars, etc. Thus, the activities of the foundation were
started with personal contacts, followed by series of lectures by Dr Nene to a group of
15
scientists during a summer school. Dr Nene has so far delivered a total of 49 lectures during
19972004 on various aspects of Agricultural Heritage of India.
(e) Promoting inclusion of Agri-History in the curriculum of agricultural universities in
India
Since the initiation of the activities of AAHF, attempts have been made by Dr Nene to
promote inclusion of Agri-History in the undergraduate curriculum of agricultural
universities in India. During lectures delivered by Dr Nene, he even offered his services
(gratis) to teach for one semester. To further emphasize its implementation, Dr Nene
presented his views on introducing this course during the Conference of Vice Chancellors of
Agricultural Universities organized by the ICAR on April 1, 2003 at New Delhi. The
conference under the chairmanship of Dr Mangala Rai, Director General, ICAR, approved
the inclusion of a course on Agricultural Heritage of India in the undergraduate curriculum
of agricultural universities (vide letter no F.No.20-1/2003/EPD dated 3 J une 2003) with effect
from the 2004/05 academic session. As a follow up of the recommendation, an orientation
workshop was held at the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management
(NAARM), Hyderabad on December 12, 2003 for the prospective teachers of the course in
agricultural universities. Dr J C Katyal, Deputy Director General (Education), ICAR extended
his full support to the workshop. Twenty-eight teachers from 18 agricultural
universities/institutions attended this workshop.
(f) Honoring the good work
AAHF has honored certain individuals for their dedication and contributions to the
Foundation. The first person that the Foundation honored was Dr Nalini Sadhale, who was
awarded the AAHF Gold Medal in 2002 for her very significant contributions to the activities
of AAHF pertaining to the translation of old manuscripts into Sanskrit. The second person
was Dr S L Choudhary was awarded a Silver Medal for his extraordinary dedication to the
AAHF activities especially in Rajasthan.
III. Impact of AAHF
A general awareness has been seen at the national and international level about the rich
heritage of Indian agriculture amongst students, teachers, scientists, administrators, and
farmers. The following points will further elaborate it:
16
The journal had carried out an article on Basmati rice (Vol. 2 175188) by Dr Nene,
which had provided strong evidence in favor of geographical identity of Basmati variety
of rice. The RiceTec USA withdrew certain clauses from their patent related to Indias
cause of geographical identity. Thus AAHF played a role in defending Indias claim over
Basmati.
Dr Nene was invited by Encyclopedia Britannica (EB) to write two articles (i) ancient
history of agriculture in South Asia, and (ii) environment, biology and agriculture in
Rigveda. These articles were published in the Indian edition of EB.
An article on seed health by Dr Nene received praise from one of the founders of seed
pathology, Dr Mary Noble of Scotland.
Prof Vedavati, Sri Venkateshwara University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh translated the
Telugu version of Vrikshayurveda Agri-History Bulletin No.1 into Telugu.
AAHF provided information on medicinal plants to Netherlands Organization for
International Cooperation in Higher Education, the Netherlands.
Dr J Katan, the Buck Family Professor of Plant Pathology, the Hebrew University of
J erusalem, Israel referred to Surapalas book in one of his lectures and stated in his letter
to AAHF, I was impressed by the facts that certain practices for disease management,
such as organic amendments and botanicals have been known in ancient times. Surapalas
book is a treasure for all of us.
In proceedings of the symposium on the Origins of Agriculture and Domestication of
Crop Plants in the Near East held in May 1997 at ICARDA it was recommended that an
international center be set up for conserving archival archaeobotanical material and
disseminating information in West Asia (similar to the Asian Agri-History Foundation
established at Secunderabad, India).
Several national and international publications carried items describing activities of the
Foundation. Among the international ones are: International Plant Genetic Resources
News Letter for Asia: the Pacific, and Oceania, and Asia medicine.
(IV) Looking Ahead
The AAHF was founded with two major objectives as stated earlier: (i) to disseminate
information on the history of agriculture in the South and Southeast Asia region, and (ii) to
stimulate interest in research on the history of agriculture in Asia with a special focus on
South and Southeast Asia. As can be noted from the contents above, the AAHF, during the
first decade of its existence, has made good progress. The Foundation has been greatly
17
successful in its first objective of disseminating information on the history of agriculture in
the South and Southeast Asia region. This has been achieved through publication of the
journal, Asian Agri-History, and publication of five bulletins in English from old agricultural
manuscripts in Sanskrit and Persian. The AAHF feels gratified with this progress; however,
more needs to be done for the Southeast Asia sub-region. For this, the Foundation will make
efforts in identifying persons in this sub-region who can help in publishing their old
agricultural manuscripts into English language. And through this article, the Foundation
requests all those interested to come forward and help the Foundation to make better progress
in this field. In the same context, the Foundation realizes that more efforts are also needed in
educating and creating awareness among general public.

The Foundation has been successful in stimulating interest in on the history of agriculture in
Asia. This is evidenced by the response received through attendances and presentations in
seminars and conferences on old agriculture. Similarly, the articles submitted for publication
in Asian Agri-History journal clearly indicate the interest, which has is being generated by
the activities of the Foundation. Also, it is interesting to note that results of the researches
carried out based on the old information in the AAHF bulletins were presented at seminars
and conferences. It was particularly heartening to note that the younger generation was
interested in such work. For this reason only, a Ph D thesis research was supported by the
Foundation as stated above. The efforts of the Foundation especially Dr. Nene in convincing
the Vice-Chancellors of agricultural universities were successful as they agreed to include a
course on the agricultural heritage of India in their undergraduate curricula. This will further
enhance interest in agricultural heritage among the future agricultural scientists of India. It is
also heartening to see that some agri-trade companies have used the information produced by
the Foundation through its bulletins in formulating some plant nutrient sprays, etc.

The Foundation at this juncture needs greater support of the scientific community in

agricultural research and development so that it is able to fulfill its mission of providing a

solid base to modern agriculture and achieve a successful sustainable agriculture.


References
Akbar, Razia (Tr.) 2000. Nuskha Dar Fanni-Falahat (The Art of Agriculture). Agri-History
Bulletin No.3, Asian Agri-History Foundation, Secunderabad, India. 136 pp.
18
Ayachit, S. M. (Tr.) 2002. Kashyapiyakrishisukti (A Treatise on Agriculture by Kashyapa)
Agri-History Bulletin No.4, Asian Agri History Foundation, Secunderabad, India. 165 pp.
Choudhary, S. L., Sharma, G. S. and Nene, Y. L. (eds.) 2000. Ancient and Medieval
History of Indian Agriculture. Proceedings of the Summer School held from 28 May to 17
J une 1999, Rajasthan College of Agriculture, Udaipur. Rajasthan College of Agriculture,
Udaipur 313 001, Rajasthan, India, 363 pp.
Nene, Y. L. and S. L. Choudhary (eds.) 2002. Agricultural Heritage of India. Asian Agri-
History Foundation, Secunderabad and Rajasthan Chapter of AAHF, Udaipur, Rajasthan,
India. 232 pp.
Sadhale, Nalini (Tr.) 1996. Surapalas Vrikshayurveda (The Science of Plant Life by
Surapala) Agri-History bulletin No. 1, Asian Agri-History Foundation, Secunderabad, India.
94 pp.
Sadhale, Nalini (Tr.) 1999. Krishi-Parashara (Agriculture by Parashara) Agri-History
Bulletin No. 2 Asian Agri-History Foundation, Secunderabad, India. 104 pp.
Sadhale, Nalini (Tr.) 2004. Vishvavallabha (Dear to the World: The Science of Plant Life).
Agri-History Bulletin No. 5. Asian Agri-History Foundation, Secunderabad, India. 134 pp.
Acknowledgement
The authors wish to express their gratitude to Dr Y L Nene, Chairman of the AAHF, for
providing the information used in this article. SLCThis acknowledgement is not necessary-
-YLN