Second green revolution needed for food security: President

August 6th, 2011 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil Bangalore, Aug 6 (IANS) India needs to usher in a second green revolution to meet the challenge of ensuring food security for all, President Pratibha Patil said Saturday.

“We need a second green revolution to ensure food security for all and eliminating hunger should be a national responsibility,” Patil said delivering the 45th annual convocation address at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) here.

Recalling how the first green revolution made India largely self-sufficient in foodgrains, she said though the country was self-reliant in cereal production, pulses and edible oils were still imported to meet the growing demand-supply gap.

“To increase productivity, we need to strengthen institutional support and bridge gaps in support systems, focus on dryland farming, adapt an integrated approach and use technology as an effective tool in farming,” Patil told the graduating students.

Noting that agriculture provided employment to about 60 percent of the workforce and nearly 69 percent of the population live in rural areas, she said extensive farming was imperative for the overall development of the people and ensure livelihood.

“Though we are a leading IT nation, we should not forget that we are also one of the largest agrarian economies of the world. Hence, agriculture productivity and sustainability needs to be undertaken with a sense of mission,” she asserted.

Calling upon universities to evolve new scientific methods of crop planning, warehousing and food technologies, the President said agriculture and industry should be developed as two well balanced wheels of the economy.

“Agricultural universities should work with the corporate sector to link sowing stage to selling farm produce, including value addition. Institutions providing inputs such as credit, seeds, fertilisers and pesticides must be re-energised to deliver desired outcomes,” Patil pointed out.

Advocating an advanced weather monitoring system to make available forecasts to farmers for early decision-making, Patil said similarly, water management and improving irrigation efficiency was essential as water was a precious commodity and its utilisation must be done in an optimum manner.

“A comprehensive programme to maintain canals and water bodies like ponds, tanks and wells should be undertaken. Introduction of modern irrigation technologies like drip and sprinkle irrigation can be effective as these have the advantage of rationalizing use of water,” she said.

Similarly, food storage limitations have to be addressed by augmenting warehouse and cold storage facilities. Decentralised warehousing will make distribution easier and a low cost option minimizing wastage during transportation.

“Even as we address these issues, it is important to understand that dryland farming will increase productivity, as it accounts for 45 percent of the total food production in the country, with 80 percent of the pulses and seeds grown here,” she observed.

The first green revolution took place in irrigated areas and many farming areas were outside its ambit. Dryland areas can be the cradle for a second green revolution. The challenge in these areas is that cultivation processes have to be completed within a limited period, when there is soil moisture. Crops suitable for the low moisture season can be grown as an additional harvest.

“Agricultural universities and research institutions must disseminate the knowledge they have generated to transform farming into a knowledge-based enterprise. The ‘Bhoo Chetna’ programme of the Karnataka government to promote use of micronutrients is an example as to how knowledge can be transferred from ‘the lab to the land’ for the benefit of farmers,” Patil added.

Governor H.R. Bharadwaj, union Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerappa Moily, and UAS vice-chancellor Narayan Gowda were among others present on this occasion.

The president also conferred 117 gold medals on meritorious students, while the governor presented degrees on 656 graduating students.

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