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Set up more public sector seed companies: M.S. Swaminathan

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REMEMBERING A DOYEN:M.S. Swaminathan, chairman, MSSRF, receiving commemorative postal stamp on G.V. Chalam from T. Murthy, Post Master General, at a function in Chennai on Saturday.
REMEMBERING A DOYEN:M.S. Swaminathan, chairman, MSSRF, receiving commemorative postal stamp on G.V. Chalam from T. Murthy, Post Master General, at a function in Chennai on Saturday.

Special Correspondent

Commemorative postage stamp on G.V. Chalam released

CHENNAI: Eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan on Saturday suggested the setting up of more public sector seed companies as thousands of varieties of hybrid seeds were lying unused and underutilised in universities and research institutions.

In his keynote address at the release of commemorative postage stamp on Padmasri G.V. Chalam, a pioneer of high-yielding rice revolution, Mr. Swaminathan said the country needed a two-pronged approach towards food security — get the best of good monsoon predicted by IMD for this year or reduce the adverse effect of normal monsoon.

The food security mission had asked for an additional 10 million tonnes of rice, 8 million tonnes of wheat and 2 million tonnes of pulses. “There is a shortage of 4 million tonnes of pulses. There are high yielding hybrid varieties, which can double the yield provided the best possible seeds are distributed to the farmers,'' he said.

Lamenting that seed production had not also kept pace with developments in agriculture, Mr. Swaminathan said that the Seed Bill introduced in Parliament had a lot of problems.

Chalam, the first general manager of the National Seeds Corporation, was truly the architect and builder of the modern public sector seed industry. Emphasising the need to strengthen public sector seed industry by setting up more companies to ensure that unused seed varieties from universities and research labs reached farmers, Mr. Swaminathan said a personality like Chalam would have ensured that farmers got the best seeds.

Even before the introduction and popularisation of Taichung Native – 1, the forerunner to varieties like IR8 heralding the green revolution, Chalam knew that the development of a rice variety with stiff, short straw was essential for major breakthrough in yield. Known for his capacity building skills, Chalam was a transformational agent with a strong belief in India's agriculture future, particularly the role of rice.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan director and former secretary of Union Ministry of Education J. Veera Raghavan said Chalam was one of the pioneers of the green revolution. During the second phase of the high yielding programme he traversed across the country talking and convincing States to make it successful.

T. Murthy, Postmaster General, released the stamp and unveiled a portrait of G.V. Chalam.

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