Special Correspondent

Farmers must redouble efforts to boost production, he says

Help achieve hunger-free world, he says in Pongal-eve message for U.N. Radio

Increase productivity in perpetuity without associated ecological harm

CHENNAI: Agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan has urged farmers to step up production by adopting climate-resilient farming systems and help to achieve a hunger-free world, which is the first among the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In his message, recorded for the U.N. Radio on the eve of Pongal, the harvest festival in south India, Dr. Swaminathan said the goal of “food for all and forever” could not be reached without the total commitment of the two billion farmers of the world to produce more by adopting climate-resilient farming systems.

It was unfortunate that the number of hungry children, women and men, which was 800 million in 2000, now crossed a billion. However, farmers could help to avoid serious famines by developing and adopting climate-resilient farming systems, he said.

“There is no time to relax and the farmers of the world must redouble their efforts to increase food production through an ever-green revolution pathway of increasing productivity in perpetuity without associated ecological harm.”

Expresses hope

Though the recent Climate Conference in Copenhagen failed to get a global commitment to halt economic growth based on high carbon intensity, Dr. Swaminathan expressed the hope that the Mexico meet in December would generate the political commitment essential to restrict the rise in global mean temperature to not more than 2ºC.

Even a 2ºC rise would adversely affect crop yields in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and lead to the possibility of small islands getting submerged.

The greatest casualty of climate change would be food and water security, Dr. Swaminathan said.