Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and top space scientist and Chairman of the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad U.R. Rao on Saturday urged the scientific community to find solutions to the “burning” problems of the State and the country.

They were participating in the inauguration of a two-day seminar on “Science and Technology: Challenges and Opportunities” organised by the Karnataka Science and Technology Academy, headed by Prof. Rao, at Mangalore University.

The Chief Minister wanted the scientists to find answers to challenges in drought management and conservation of available water resources and its effective use in mitigating drought. There was also a need to cultivate more of the dry land. Only a quarter of the agricultural land was irrigated, he pointed out. State also faced the challenge of providing remunerative prices to farmers by integrating Information Technology, promoting eco-tourism and mariculture besides helping the fishermen who were in distress. A part of the solid waste generated in big cities was yet to be managed well. On the energy front there was a need to tap renewable energy resources.

On his part, Prof. Rao said development of the country depended on science and technology and urged young scientists to work hard to find solutions to the problems. It was science which had led to the increase in the production of foodgrain from 55 million tonnes in 1940 to current level of 230 million tonnes.

However, India's agricultural production was 1.8 tonnes per ha whereas it was 4.5 tonnes in the US and 2.6 tonnes around the world. When India's population reaches 175 crore, the country would need over 350 million tonnes to 400 million tonnes of foodgrains.

“We have spoiled our agriculture,” he rued saying that soil condition had been adversely hit. India needed “precision agriculture” and a non-stop green revolution, he added.

Though India's GDP was the fourth highest, Indians were at 140 position in terms of per capita GDP, which was the true measure of prosperity. He said nanotechnology offered hope but in India not much was being done in application of the technology. Unless that is done, benefits would not reach the masses.

He said rainwater harvesting for urban centres in India was a wrong strategy. More than half the water consumed in cities like Tokyo, Paris and London came from recycled water. For energy needs the world would increasingly need to tap solar energy from space and helium from the moon.

Mr. Gowda announced that the Government would earmark Rs. 2 crore for the Academy in the 2012-13 budget for providing scholarships to youth.

V. Prakash, Former director of Central Food Research Institute, Mysore, was presented with the “lifetime achievement award”.

Keywords: Sadananda Gowda

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