'Sustainable use of resources can control crisis'

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Hyderabad, Jul 2: Noted agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan has said food and fuel crisis and spiralling inflation could only be controlled through sustainable and equitable use of bio-resources and blending traditional knowledge with the modern technology.

With the prices of all commodities going up across the world, the country needed to concentrate on achieving food security based on home grown food and should ensure livelihood for over 60 per cent of the population dependent on agriculture, he said while delivering a lecture here on Tuesday, July 1.

Showing the pathway to achieve evergreen revolution, he stressed the need for undertaking organic agriculture and conserving farming with the help of integrated pest management, nutrient supply, natural resource management systems and use of permitted gentically modified varieties.

The scientist said in order to produce 100 mt of wheat by 2015, the country should increase average yield of 4.1 per hectare from 25 million hectares and utilise the untapped land of the country. In every state, untapped land should be developed into Special Agricultural Zones, he added.

He wanted the Constitution of National Rainfed Area Authority to work out alternative cropping strategies, seed reserves to implement contingency plans, promote rural climate managers and set up computer-aided knowledge centres.

Mr Swaminathan also underlined the need for enlarging food basket by including neglected coarse grains which had high nutritional value to redress ''hidden hunger'' and enhance sustainable income, food and nutritional securiy.

Mr Swaminathan was of the view to have Indian Trade Organisation on the lines of World Trade Organisation to step up farm exports which was only 6.2 per cent of total agricultural production. Stating that average total income of farmers with upto two hectares land was less than 80 per cent of their consumption expenditure, he said the income could be increased by facilitating formation of cooperative farming and service cooperatives and group farming by SHGs.

Referring the leader of the Community Food Security Movement in Koraput in Orissa, Komala Pujari, who won the Equator Intiative Award, Mr Swaminathan called for a community food security system comprising gene, seed, grain and water banks to achieve the United Nation Millennium Development Goals of eradicating hunger and poverty in the country.

He said, ''There is a need for change in the mindset to consider farmers as 'benefactors and not beneficiaries'. The Agricultural Ministry should be renamed as Ministry of Agriculutre and Farmers' Welfare and a Farmers Commission should be constituted with the eminent farmer as its chairperson.'' He also underscored the need for setting up village resource centres in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation.

UNI

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