India produced record levels of food grain in 2010—2011 but would still need a second green revolution to feed its growing population, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Saturday.
In the face of acute shortages in the 1960s, India made rapid strides in farm production by introducing high—yielding seeds in what was dubbed a green revolution.
“We all look back proudly to our green revolution, which helped us overcome food shortages and banish the spectre of starvation,” Mr. Singh told a gathering of agriculture scientists in Delhi.
But, he added, many regions which witnessed the green revolution were suffering from environmental degradation and farm productivity had since plateaued.
“We clearly need a second green revolution that is more broad—based, more inclusive and more sustainable; we need to produce more without depleting our natural resources any further,” Mr. Singh said.
India had produced a record 241 million tonnes of food grain in the season July 2010 to June 2011, 23 million tonnes more than the previous year.
With a population of 1.2 billion that has grown at the rate of 17.64 per cent over the last decade, the demand for food grain was projected to touch 280 million tonnes by 2020—2021.
Rapid development had increased incomes of poorer sections of society fuelling the demand, Mr. Singh said. But more needed to be done as India continued to face a major problem of under—nutrition, particularly among children and women, he said.
“Ensuring food and nutritional security and eliminating hunger, including hidden hunger, remain a high national priority,” the Prime Minister said.
India had cut absolute poverty by half over a quarter century, but 440 million people still lived on less than a dollar a day, the country’s top economic policy—making body, the Planning Commission estimated in 2010.
“The challenges that India’s agriculture faces remain enormous,” Mr. Singh said, adding that much more than the current 0.6 per cent needed to be spent on agricultural research and development.