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Agricultural prod to be doubleed in next 25 yrs: Kapur

Written by: Staff
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Chandigarh, Dec 4 (UNI) Farmers would need to at least double the production over the next 25 years, with the addition of two billion more people by 2025, said Nunhems Seeds Pivate Ltd Managing Director Arvind Kapur.

''Technology must not just be left in the lab but must be applied on land too. Development of technology has long gestation periods and involves a huge amount of money as gene technology takes time and involves several precise processes,'' Dr Kapur said at an international conference of biotechnology, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, (CII) here today.

Recalling that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called for a revamping of agriculture, he pointed out the role of modern agriculture was to provide more and better food and better environment as plants too are affected by pollution.

Dr Kapur said the goal of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) was to reduce the number of hungry mouths to half by 2015. Biotechnology holds the key to that, he said adding that the biotechnology scenario in India was bright, with benefits accruing not only to farmers but also consumers and the environment.

''The problem is that 120 million hectares (out of 140 million hectares) of land under cultivation is degraded because of ph level, water holding capacity, salinity etc, genetic poverty too is another limitation. To face this challenge, Biotechnology will need to introduce more genes to control biotic stresses. Moreover emphasis would be given to product safety,'' Dr Kapur stated, adding that in the long term,''We will have food that is less hazardous because of biotechnology.'' Mr Ajai Rana, All India Corn Crop Group Head, Monsanto India said India ranked fifth in acreage but came 24th in productivity.

''Population growth and increase in consumption will magnify the impact of agriculture on environment. India's current situation analysis shows that there is an increase in population, degradation of land. There is a tremendous yield increase but still low in major crops,'' elaborated Mr Rana.

''Biotechnology can save nutrition in food and can conserve Omega-3, which promotes heart health. Opportunity for plant biotech in India is bright as it can lead to yield enhancement, insecticide usage reduction, drought and salinity tolerance and nutrition enhancement. This is going to be the future of agriculture,'' said Mr Rana.

Forum for Biotechnology Chairman Devinder Sharma urged Indian agri scientists to develop means to tap domestic potential.

While cautioning scientists against relying on western data and technology, he said, ''Realise our own potential and utilise our natural resources so that farmers can be taken out of the vicious circle of poverty.'' Globalisation can only be of any help if and only if we have a strong local farmer base, this is not an easy proposition given the international pressures from WTO and EU. India must follow a long-term plan with farmer's basic welfare in mind, Mr Sharma added.

UNI DP KR DB2057

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