Expert calls for paradigm shift in agriculture research

‘Undue emphasis being laid on genetically modified crops’

Sage advice:Center for Sustainable Agriculture Executive Director G.V. Ramanjaneyulu addressing a seminar at Regional Agricultural Research Station in Guntur on Friday.—Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

Sage advice:Center for Sustainable Agriculture Executive Director G.V. Ramanjaneyulu addressing a seminar at Regional Agricultural Research Station in Guntur on Friday.—Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

The Green Revolution in India was possible due to import of advanced technologies from developed countries, mainly the U.S., and a dominant role played by the government, which extended remarkable assistance to farmers in producing crops and selling them at remunerative price. In the post-Green Revolution scenario, India continued to adopt technologies that were best suited for large land holdings such as those in the U.S., where agriculture was heavily subsidised and the regulatory agencies played their role to perfection.

“The situation in India is altogether different. Research is being done from the government’s own perspective rather than on the basis of ground realities, which is reflected in the sordid plight of farmers,” said G.V. Ramanjaneyulu, Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), Hyderabad.

Pest management

Addressing a seminar on ‘Agricultural research in post-Green Revolution era – Need for a paradigm shift’ organised by the Jana Vignana Vedika at the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) at Lam here on Friday, Mr. Ramanjaneyulu said at a time when the food basket needed to be diversified for feeding the billion plus population and for sustaining the agriculture sector, paddy, cotton, maize, and groundnut constituted 80 per cent of the crops cultivated in India.

Instead of focusing on ‘pest management’, scientists were harping on ‘pesticide research’, whereas the emphasis ought to have been on finding new ways of reducing the usage of pesticides whose harmful consequences were very well known.

Mr. Ramanjaneyulu expressed regret that enough thought did not go into the reasons for farmer suicides which, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, numbered a staggering 2,56,913 in a span of 15 years (1995-2010).

Undue emphasis was laid on genetically modified crops, which might be high-yielding but not disease-resistant in the long run. Fertilizer subsidy bill topped Rs. 1,00,000 crore, as farmers preferred using these chemicals oblivious to the rising demand for organic foods.

A lot of research was required to be done keeping such crucial things in mind as otherwise agriculture was not going to be sustainable in the medium to long terms, Mr. Ramanjaneyulu observed.

RARS Associate Director K. Sankar Reddy and N. Venugopala Rao of Jana Vignana Vedika spoke.

 


  • India continues to adopt technologies best suited for conditions prevailing in the U.S, he says
  • Executive Director of CSA says enough thought has not gone into reasons behind farmer suicides

Group. The Greed : Mega RevolutionFoundations, Agribusiness Muscle In On Public Goods

Big Agribusiness Influence Threatens to Override Public Interest in Greed Revolution

A new 30-page report that documents the growing influence of agribusiness on the multilateral food system and the lack of transparency in research funding has been released today by the international civil society organization ETC Group. The Greed : Mega RevolutionFoundations, Agribusiness Muscle In On Public Goods presents three case studies – one involving the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and two involving CGIAR Centers (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) – which point to a dangerous trend that will worsen rather than solve the problem of global hunger. The report details the involvement of, among others, Nestlé, Heineken, Monsanto, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Syngenta Foundation.

“It is unacceptable that the UN is giving multinational agribusiness privileged access to alter their agricultural policies,” said Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group, who has been involved in the field for 40 years. “It is ridiculous that the key organizations responsible for agricultural research have no credible data on the extent of corporate involvement in their work and that CGIAR’s biggest funder – at $89 million – is somebody called, ‘Miscellaneous!’ Governments and UN secretariats have forgotten that their first task is to serve the public – not the profiteers.”

The report shows that multinational corporations are now seeing their future profitability in “emerging economies,” and they are finally taking notice of the international institutions that have been quietly working throughout the global South for half a century. However this new interest in UN agencies is causing “mandate-muddle” as companies demand that policy be rewritten to better reflect their interests, including allowing privileged access to publicly held germplasm. Public institutions are tending to look the other way when Big Ag harms peasant agriculture.

“Public institutions related to food and agriculture are mandated to support the poor and hungry.

Governments need to address the big- and small-scale conflicts of interest, beginning with a long overdue investigation of the links between the international public and private sectors in food and agriculture. Based on our initial conversations with UN officials about this research, we are hopeful that this will happen,”donate concludes Mooney.

 

For more information:

Pat Mooney, ETC Group (Ottawa), etc@etcgroup.org+1 613 241 2267; cell: +1 613 240 0045

Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group (Mexico City), silvia@etcgroup.org+52 55 5563 2664;  cell: +52 1 55 2653 3330

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Experts voice apprehension over food security : 100 yrs of paddy research and beyond

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/agri-biz/article2788316.ece?homepage=true&ref=wl_home

COIMBATORE, JAN. 9:
Government officials and ICAR experts today urged rice scientists to wake up to reality and ensure food security for all in the coming years.

In a nutshell, the officials, while stating that the foodgrain production scenario looked comfortable at present, voiced apprehension about the future in view of the erratic weather patterns on the one hand and the need for meeting the demands from the rising population on the other.

Mr V. Venkatachalam, Special Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, said that while there has been a four-fold increase in rice production from 1950 onwards, the challenge would be in increasing productivity in the coming years in the face of changing climate and scarce water resources.

He was speaking at the Centenary Celebration of the Paddy Breeding Station and Inauguration of ‘International Symposium on 100 years of Rice Science and Looking Beyond’, at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University here.

“By 2050, foodgrain production would have to double to ensure food security to meet the growing population needs, which is expected to increase by almost 50 per cent. This increase in food grain production would not be possible if we do not make any breakthrough in research, make use of bio-technology, genomics, genetic engineering techniques and so on.”

“We have to strive to increase rice productivity and this cannot happen from increase in area under rice, but through crop intensity,’ he continued and highlighted the Government of India schemes such as the National Food Security Mission and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

He urged the scientists to evolve multi-stress tolerant varieties, such that it resists all types of natural calamities and climate change.

The Agricultural Production Commissioner and Secretary to Government of Tamil Nadu, Mr Sandeep Saxena, said the State’s mandate was in doubling foodgrain production and trebling the income of farmers, albeit with the support of the farm varsity.

“To make this possible, we will have to follow the scientific techniques in cultivation to bridge the yield gap. The State would address this issue by bridging the gap first at the village level, before moving to the block and district level and so on, so, Tamil Nadu is in the forefront in productivity of almost all crops within the next five years.”

Thus stating, he cautioned the scientists of the huge challenge that they would have to face in view of changes in climate. “The number of rainy days in a year are shrinking but intensity of the rain is on the rise; normal weather pattern is changing,’ he said adding ‘the cyclone Thane destroyed almost 2.2 lakh hectares of food crop in the State. We were sailing very well towards achieving a food grain target of 150 lakh tonnes till the three districts of Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Vizhupuram were hit badly by the cyclone, which devastated all crops.”

“These are furies of nature which may become more frequent in the times to come; the scientists will have to develop suitable varieties with properties to withstanding storm, wind and the challenges of water,” Mr Saxena said.

Dr Swapan K. Datta, Deputy Director-General (Crop Sciences), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, said “even as we march towards achieving rice production target of 100 million tonnes this year, we should remember that a right policy would be driving force for tomorrow’s research and productivity.’

He said how with scientific intervention, policy decisions and management initiatives, the country’s rice productivity levels had risen from 800 kg/hectare to3.7 ton/hectare, while emphasising the need to remain more focused on basic science and rice research.

Parliamentary standing committee report on National Agriculture Research System

DEVELOPMENT OF ABIOTIC STRESS RESISTANT CROP VARIETIES AND DISSEMINATION OF PRODUCTION ENHANCING TECHNOLOGIES –REVIEW OF R&D AND EXTENSION EFFORTS IN THE COUNTRY

http://164.100.47.134/lsscommittee/Agriculture/Report%20Final.pdf