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Work for second green revolution, Manmohan Singh tells scientists

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HONOURED: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presenting the 93rd Indian Science Congress General President's Science Excellence Award to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen in Hyderabad on Tuesday. Photo: K. RAMESH BABU
HONOURED: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presenting the 93rd Indian Science Congress General President's Science Excellence Award to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen in Hyderabad on Tuesday. Photo: K. RAMESH BABU

P. Sunderarajan

Focus should be on dryland agriculture; address needs of small farmers

HYDERABAD: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday called upon the scientific community to work towards bringing about a second green revolution that would have a special focus on dryland agriculture and address the needs of small and marginal farmers.

Inaugurating the 93rd session of the Indian Science Congress here, he said though the farmers have benefited much from the contributions of science and technology over the past three decades and more, a lot more remained to be done.

The technologies and strategies unleashed by the first green revolution seem to have run their course. There was, therefore, a need for a second green revolution. It should not be confined to food crops alone. It should also cover non-food crops, horticulture and new plant varieties.

The new technologies that the scientists develop should be economically affordable and relevant to small and marginal farmers. "Two criticisms of the first green revolution have been: one, that it did not benefit dryland agriculture, and two, that it was not scale neutral and had benefited large farms and big farmers only. While evidence showed that this was not always the case, we must ensure that the second green revolution technologies have a special focus on dryland agriculture and do benefit small and marginal farmers."

Rural distress

The Prime Minister also urged the scientific community to work towards developing technologies that were labour using and at the same time efficient in both farm and non-farm business, considering that even as the share of agriculture in national income was falling rapidly, the share of population dependent on agriculture is not declining as rapidly, leading to rural distress and enforced migration from rural to urban areas. The aim should be to develop technologies both in agriculture and rural manufacturing so that jobs could be created closer home for those who live in villages.

In addition, he said, there was need for greater investment in skill development, modernisation of sectors such as handloom and handicraft industries and development of new functional townships away from cities, but equipped with basic infrastructure to attract new investments in the manufacturing and services sectors in rural areas. All this opened up opportunities for new technology developments. Agricultural universities must be intellectually alive to such possibilities and develop courses and programmes to train people living in rural areas.

"My vision of rural India is of a modern agrarian, industrial and services economy co-existing side by side, where people can live in well-equipped villages and commute easily to work, be it on the farm or in the non-farm economy. There is much that modern science and technology can do to realise this vision," he said.

Quoting the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's speech at the Indian Science Congress session in 1976, he said the strategy for rural India has to be one of improving the quality of life in villages, based on easily accessible and appropriate technologies so that people can continue to live where their forefathers have lived for generations and yet live comfortable and decent lives.

Dr. Singh also called for greater research on development of affordable and appropriate technologies for water resource management and energy production as water and energy, like land, were scare resources and science and technology could help on the supply side by increasing factor productivity and by developing technologies that conserve their utilisation. Assuring that the Central Government would encourage world class research in appropriate water and energy related technologies, he said, "I seek a more informed debate on utilisation of river waters in a manner that would be ecologically sustainable and economically affordable."

HYDERABAD: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday called upon scientists to bring about a second green revolution, which would have a special focus on dryland agriculture and would address the needs of small and marginal farmers.

Inaugurating the 93rd session of the Indian Science Congress here, he said though farmers benefited much from science and technology over the past three decades and more, a lot more remained to be done.

The technologies and strategies unleashed by the first green revolution seemed to have run their course. There was, therefore, need for a second green revolution. It should not be confined to food crops and should cover non-food crops, horticulture and new plant varieties.

The new technologies should be economically affordable and relevant to small and marginal farmers.

"Two criticisms of the first green revolution have been: one, that it did not benefit dryland agriculture, and two, that it was not scale neutral and had benefited large farms and big farmers only. While evidence showed that this was not always the case, we must ensure that the second green revolution technologies have a special focus on dryland agriculture and do benefit small and marginal farmers."

Rural distress

The Prime Minister also urged scientists to develop technologies which used labour and at the same time were efficient in both farm and non-farm business. For, even as the share of agriculture in national income was falling fast, the proportion of the population dependent on agriculture did not decline as rapidly, leading to rural distress and enforced migration to urban areas.

The aim should be to develop technologies in both agriculture and rural manufacturing so that jobs could be created closer home for those living in villages.

In addition, there was need for greater investment in skill development, modernisation of sectors such as handlooms and handicrafts and development of new functional townships away from cities, but equipped with basic infrastructure to attract new investments in the manufacturing and services sectors. All this would open up opportunities for new technology.

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