Growing certain plantation crops such as coconut can counter the impact of climate change, George V. Thomas, Director, Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), Kasaragod, has said.

He was speaking after inaugurating “Emerging trends in biological sciences”, a two-day seminar at St. Agnes College here on Friday. The seminar is sponsored by the Department of Biotechnology, Union Ministry of Science and technology, and organised by the departments of Biology, Zoology and Microbiology of the college. He said that CPCRI had carried out studies that showed coconut could sequester carbon dioxide.

Farmers, who cultivated coconut, should be paid for sequestering carbon dioxide, but the issue had to be taken up at inter-government level. He told The Hindu that multi-cropping was better than monoculture of coconut. Instead of growing only coconut in a plantation, it was better to grow it along with crops such as black pepper, nutmeg, banana and pineapple. In such a combination of crops, the roots reached the ground at different levels. It ensured higher productivity of crops, and it was economically viable. While some farmers were growing some of these crops as part of multi-cropping, no one was replicating this particular combination.

A meet would be held in Kasaragod and Puttur in February on “Protection of plant varieties and farmers’ rights Act, 2001”. Farmers, students, teachers and development workers may attend, he said. The Act provided for the establishment of an effective system for protection of plant varieties, rights of farmers and plant breeders and encouraged development of new varieties of plants in the country. The Indian legislation conformed to the International Union for Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), 1978, and recognised the contributions of commercial plant breeders and farmers in plant breeding activity.

Mr. Thomas told students to take up science for study, become scientists, and to do the country proud instead of information technology, engineering and medical which were more popular. The health of a nation was measured, among other factors, by the state of its science and technology. India spent one per cent of its GDP on research and development, which was lower than Asian countries such as South Korea and Taiwan, which invested between 1.5 to 3.5 per cent of their GDP, he said.