Special Correspondent

"India must embark on a second green revolution to increase productivity"

  • Stresses application of nanotechnology in agriculture
  • Scientists should adopt a people-centric approach, says Sharad Pawar

    NEW DELHI: President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on Thursday, said that agriculture research must be reoriented to concentrate on the efficient use of land, water and people. It should lead to sufficient food production for the planet including the billion-plus population of India.

    Inaugurating the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) Triennial Conference 2006 on the theme "Reorienting Agricultural Research to meet the Millennium Development Goals," Dr. Kalam said that India must embark on a second green revolution to increase productivity through research and newer production methodologies. By 2020 India would require to produce over 340 million tonnes of foodgrain in view of the population growth.

    The President said that the increase in production would have to surmount many impeding factors. The requirement of land for the increasing population as well as for greater aforestation and environmental preservation, would force a situation whereby the present 170 million hectares of arable land would not be fully available. It might shrink to 100 million hectares by 2020. In addition, there would be shortage of water. "Our agricultural scientists and technologists have to work for doubling the productivity of the available land with lesser area being available for cultivation with less water and limited number of farmers. The type of technologies needed would be in the areaof development of seeds that would ensure good yield even under constraints of water and land. The second green revolution is indeed a knowledge graduation from characterisation of soil to the matching of the seed with the composition of the fertilizer, water management and evolving pre-harvesting techniques for such conditions."

    The President focused on nanotechnology as the new technology that should be applied in agriculture. Some of the possible areas of research in agriculture using this technology were nanoporous zeolites for slow release and efficient doses of water and fertilizers for plant, of nutrients and drugs for livestock, nanocapsules for herbicide delivery, nanosensors for soil quality and for plant health monitoring. The application of nanotechnology would also be possible in food processing such as nanocomposites for plastic film coatings used in food packaging, anti-microbial nanoemulsions for applications in decontamination of food equipment, packaging or food processing.

    Dr. Kalam also stressed the role of Information Technology for maintaining an updated and enriched database of region specific agricultural information and its timely dissemination.

    Urging scientists to show "scientific magnanimity," Dr. Kalam urged the world community to jointly research on high yielding crop varieties, tissue culture and clonal propagation, global warming, radioisotopes, precision farming and automisation, energy farming and assistive technologies for farms.

    Union Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar urged scientists to adopt a people centric approach. "We will have to address poverty by concentrating on profitability, productivity and permanency to bring about the needed food, nutritional and environmental security, locally, regionally and globally."

    Later the Chairman of the GFAR, Adel El-Beltagi announced an alliance between the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States for global information and knowledge exchange.