Crop Biotech Update

Indian Experts Tackle Self-Sufficiency in Agri Production and Nutrition

January 16, 2009

 "Achieving Self-sufficiency in Agricultural Production and Nutrition", a seminar organized by the Indian Merchants' Chamber on December 20, 2008 in Mumbai brought together some of India's top notch agricultural scientists and agribusinesses to discuss various aspects of the agricultural sector including input supplies, role of technology, government policies as well as issues such as global warming. Dr M. S. Swaminathan, eminent scientist, highlighted the need to overcome  hidden hunger caused by micro nutrient deficiencies. This was one challenge that threaten food and nutrition security and required a paradigm shift in the way the government and the private sector are dealing with it, he asserted.

Delivering the keynote address, Dr.R S Paroda, former Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), said that growth of agricultural production was unprecedented in the past 50 years - from 50 million tons to 220 million tons of food grains accompanied by more real income due to a reduction in food prices in real terms. Nonetheless, the challenge for India was adding 19 million (equal to Australia) to its population every year, and currently supporting 8% of the world's population on 2.8% of the world's land mass. "To feed our growing population, we would need to have growth of an additional 5 million tonnes of food grains every year, a difficult task in the context of diminishing growth rates, rising soil salinity and lowered soil fertility." He added that India could overcome these challenges as it was a world leader in the cultivation of cotton, pearl millet, castor, and pigeon pea.

Twelve reputed experts and agricultural scientists made presentations on such topics as strategies for increasing production and productivity of grains (rice, wheat, pulses), oilseeds, cotton and horticulture crops, and role of agricultural biotechnology and its regulatory oversight. 

On this occasion, Dr. R.S. Paroda, Dr. B.R. Barwale and Mr. M.N. Chaini jointly released ISAAA's latest publication "Trust in the Seed" that highlights the significance of the seed and new crop technologies. The seminar concluded with specific recommendations for achieving agricultural and nutritional self-sufficiency.

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