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Wednesday, Mar 31, 2004

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`Country should move to evergreen revolution'

By Our Staff Correspondent

MYSORE, MARCH 30. The noted food scientist, M.S. Swaminathan, today stressed the need to synergise technology and policy making to ensure food security in the country.

He was delivering the keynote address at a colloquium on "Plant proteins and national nutrition security" organised by the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) and The Solae Company.

He said, "Building a sustainable nutrition security system for the country includes provisions for physical, economic, and ecological security, and access to balanced diet and drinking water for all and for ever."

While the problem of food availability could be overcome, the ability of the common man to buy food mattered the most. He stressed the need for a remunerative marketing system and a supporting infrastructure to alleviate poverty. Hunger and poverty existed in spite of abundant food production.

The country should move from green revolution to "evergreen revolution," he said. Lamenting that farmers were adopting mono cropping for commercial gains, he said they could adopt mixed cropping by growing underutilised nutrition crops such as finger millet, Italian millet, and pigeon pea.

Every village should be converted into a knowledge centre by 2007, Dr. Swaminathan said and added that rural people should be taught management strategies to bring about a revolution.

He said there was a need to protect medicinal plants that existed in Kerala and Orissa. Giving an example, he said Navara, a variety of rice grown in Kerala, was suited for diabetic patients. A little effort would create a huge demand for the variety and generate job opportunities.

Speaking after inaugurating the colloquium, the adviser to the president of the FICCI and Founder Secretary of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, P. Murari, suggested a second green revolution to boost the agriculture produce.

Stating that the agriculture potential of the country was yet to be harnessed, he noted that India had emerged as the world's largest producer of milk after the white revolution.

Mr. Murari said there was a notion that GDP grew with the growth of industries, which had been proved wrong by the fall in the GDP by five per cent. The political leadership had realised the importance of agriculture only after such a fall, and efforts were on to improve agricultural production. The growth in the agriculture had resulted in an eight-per cent increase in the GDP.

Dr. Swaminathan, who is also the Chairman of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, was presented the Dupont-Solae Award for his contribution to the field of food and nutrition security.

The Director of the CFTRI, V. Prakash, and the president and CEO of The Solae Company, U.S., Tony L. Arnold, were present.

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