Country's need for self-reliance in biotechnology stressed

PROUD WINNER: Keshava Reddy, who won 10 gold medals, receiving the medals and certificates from Governor T.N. Chaturvedi (centre) at the 40th convocation of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, on Saturday. On the dais are M.N. Sheela vanthar, Vice-Chancellor of the university; Mangala Rai, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education; and Minister for Agriculture Bandeppa Kashampur. Photo: K. Gopinathan  

Staff Reporter

`Biotechnology for crops is essential to meet country's food needs by 2020'

BANGALORE: The second wave of the Green Revolution is on the move and hybrid cultures are essential for its success, Mangala Rai, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education, New Delhi, said here on Saturday.

Addressing students at the 40th convocation of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Mr. Rai said newer techniques in agricultural production are essential to improve productivity and increase yield. For this, India needs to develop self-reliance in critical components of biotechnology.

Mr. Rai also said that the focus should be on "appropriate biotechnologies" to develop crops that are insect resistant, viral, bacterial and fungal disease resistant, have high tolerance to drought and salinity and have nutritional benefits.

Additional foodgrains

The use of biotechnology for crops is essential if India is to meet the needs of its population by 2020. "By 2020, we may have to produce 50 per cent additional foodgrains to meet our needs. This will demand the production of an additional five million to six million tonnes of foodgrains per annum," he said.

Apart from introducing biotechnology into agriculture, there is also a need to promote produce.

Mr. Rai said super hybrid rice was developed in India a few years ago but it has not been used to its potential because many farmers do not know about it. China, he said, has made immense use of hybrid rice.

Degrees were conferred on 704 students at the convocation, of which 432 were graduate degrees, 236 were postgraduate degrees and 36 were doctoral degrees.

Twenty-six gold medals were awarded at the graduate level and 54 gold medals at the postgraduate level.

Keshava Reddy, an undergraduate, won 10 gold medals. The boy from Gauribidanur said his father had wanted him to become an engineer but he wanted to follow his family tradition and become an agriculturist. The family farms five acres of land.

"I am very glad that my efforts paid off. I plan to work on genetically modified cotton in the future," he said.

The university conferred the Dr. M.H. Marigowda State Award for Best Horticultural Farmer on H.K. Sreekanta, the Dr. M.H. Marigowda National Award for Best Horticultural Research to S.N. Pandey, the Board of Regents Best Farm Superintendent Award to Dasappa Madaiah and the Zuari Industries Ltd. Best Extension Work Award to N. Nagaraju.