NATIONAL

National policy on pesticides sought

Agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan lighting the lamp before delivering the sixth J.R.D. Tata Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on Tuesday. At left is R.K. Somany, president, Assocham. — Photo: S. Arneja

Agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan lighting the lamp before delivering the sixth J.R.D. Tata Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on Tuesday. At left is R.K. Somany, president, Assocham. — Photo: S. Arneja  

Agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan lighting the lamp before delivering the sixth J.R.D. Tata Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on Tuesday. At left is R.K. Somany, president, Assocham. — Photo: S. Arneja

New Delhi Aug. 26. The agriculture scientist, M.S. Swaminathan, today called for a National Pesticides Policy "since the dangers to human health from food and drinking water were increasing."

He said while there was debate on the quantitative aspects of water needs, the same interest was not evident in the qualitative aspects of water needs. The need of the hour was to initiate a Jal Swaraj and Water Literacy Movement and members of panchayats to be trained as Water Security Managers capable of looking at water security issues in their totality. The Jal Swaraj Movement for irrigation water security should be based on conservation of every drop of water and its equitable use for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes.

He also suggested the setting up of a National Food Security Trust with an allocation of 10 million tonnes of foodgrains to undertake "food for social capital development'' programmes designed to ensure food for all with dignity.

The Trust could make small allocations of 50 to 200 tonnes of grains to panchayats as well as credible NGOs in the hunger and hydrologic hot spots.

Delivering the sixth JRD Tata Memorial Lecture here on "Enhancing Our Agricultural Competitiveness", Dr. Swaminathan said that "political will, backed by appropriate political and administrative action'' was yet to emerge for eradicating chronic and hidden hunger caused by protein-energy and micronutrient under-nutrition.

According to him, to achieve a hunger-free India by August 15, 2007 — the 60th anniversary of the country's freedom— there should be convergence of all on-going food safety net programmes, establishment of community food and feed banks, an integrated approach to rural on-farm and non-farm employment, location-specific responses to hunger needs by forming the National Food Security Trust and strengthening the ongoing farming systems intensifications, diversification and value addition.

Remarking that Indian agriculture was at the crossroads on account of the vagaries of the monsoon and "an unfriendly market'' arising from external trade conditions, building sustainable climate management and trade security systems had become urgent tasks, he said.

Dr. Swaminathan said no further time should be lost in developing a National Food and Agriculture Biotechnology Policy through political consensus.

However, for implementation of the policy there should be an autonomous professionally-managed Biotechnology Regulatory Commission which inspired public confidence.

According to him the guiding principles for converting goals into accomplishments would be land reforms, decentralisation, life-style approach, information, education and communication, household entitlement card (giving information on various government projects), asset-building and community development and capacity-building.

Recommended for you