New Delhi, May 28 (ANI/Business Wire India): With India having the highest percentage of area under cultivation having stagnant yields which are below the world's average needs great thrust on, public-private partnerships and commercialization of Indian agriculture food prices.
Coupled with rising concerns of food and nutritional security is further a necessity to take these issues with urgency. These apart from some other problems and solutions were the main issues that were deliberated at the BP Pal workshop organized by TERI University and the BP Pal trust.
The workshop that had the presence of subject experts from FAO, ICAR, DBT, NAIP and TERI focused on an urgent need to increase the yield of crops through application of new technologies, to develop designer crops through better seeds, use of molecular tools in future crop improvement and application of traditional biotechnologies for improving productivity and nutritional quality which will help the country and farmers at a time when prices of agricultural commodities across the globe are on an unprecedented increase.
Dr R B Singh, former Deputy Director General, Food and Agricultural Organization in his inaugural address highlighted the urgency to follow certain measures. He said, "South-Asia including India is hotspot for maternal and child malnutrition. South Asia accounts for 23 per cent of world population but hardly generates 2 per cent of global income. It houses 40 per cent of the world's poor and 57 per cent of the world's underweight children. The farmers in these regions are poor and mentioned that farmer-non-farmer divide increased from 1:3 in 1980 to 1:5 in 2006". This highlights that poverty is building up in our rural areas and is cause of nearly 50 per cent of our small and marginal farmers as Below Poverty Line (BPL).
He further said that another disappointing starling fact was that production of oil seeds and pulses is more or less stagnant for last so many years thus putting pressure on their availability that has resulted in sky rocketing prices. Issue of mitigating the impacts of climate change was also debated.
Dr Manju Sharma former Secretary, Department of Biotechnology and Dr Renu Swarup, Adviser, Department of Biotechnology spoke at large about application of new technologies to develop designer crops more suited for increasing productivity, improving nutritional quality and with increased resistance to abiotic stresses.
Use of molecular tools in future crop improvement and application of traditional biotechnologies for improving productivity is required too were discussed in detail.
Dr Mruthyunjaya briefed about the National Agricultural Innovative Programme (NAIP). He mentioned that this programme is essentially built to strength public and private partnerships as agriculture needs commercialization. Production must be scaled up and simultaneously cost of production must come down to be competitive in the international market. There is an urgent need for entrepreneurship development and value added agriculture.
Dr Sachin Chaturvedi raised a number of important issues and questioning if we are on the right track. Of the many concerns highlighted, an important fact was that of Government outlay for agricultural research is too little. He mentioned that in India only 05 per cent of GDP is invested in agricultural research when 2/3rd of our population's livelihood depends on it.
Dr Radha Singh, Former Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture said, "Developing countries must improve rural infrastructure. There is a need to raise issues on trade/barriers such as Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) in International forums. Social safety net must be implemented. May be smart cards be issues in some states as an experiment".
The panel unanimously suggested that we must develop and take technologies to small and marginal farmers. Also, agriculture may not be viewed as means of attaining food security but include nutritional security leading to reducing health burden and contributing to building India as a nation of Healthy Population.