Veiled reference to GM crops?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has exhorted agricultural scientists to work towards a 2-fold objective of enabling the Indian farmer to feed India and the world, and making him earn good money in the process.
Addressing the agricultural science community on the 86th Foundation Day of ICAR, at the NASC Complex in Delhi, the Prime Minister – who was earlier greeted with a standing ovation – called upon the audience to give a “standing ovation” to the millions of Indian farmers, who, he said, have played a huge role in changing India’s fortunes.
Speaking after giving away 10 awards for excellence in agricultural research, the prime minister asked the scientists to elaborate upon their research in simple terms, so that it could be understood by the farmers, and they could be convinced to try out new products and initiatives.
Noting that farming in India is hereditary, and practices are difficult to change, the prime minister said that change could happen only when the farmer was convinced about its efficacy. Therefore, agricultural scientist must – in accordance with changing circumstances of climate, water and soil – convince the farmer about initiatives of scientific community. This was perhaps a veiled reference to genetically modified crops that have witnessed unseemly agitation based on half-baked information.
The prime minister said that the water-cycle had to be managed according to the changing weather-cycle. He asked the ICAR to set goals for their centenary, which is 14 years away. He said the work of ICAR should have two mantras:
- “कम समय, कम समय ज़्यादा उपज (Less land, less time, more crop);
- “Per drop, more crop.”
He called upon the ICAR to set its sights on achieving self-sufficiency in edible oil, and improving protein content and availability of pulses.
Since demand is increasing, and land available will not rise, the focus has to be on soil fertility, the prime minister noted. Giving the example of MK Gandhi, and his commitment towards water conservation, the prime minister asked the institution to work for more efficient ways of water conservation and irrigation (जल संचय से जल सींचन).
The prime minister also said that in the field of animal husbandry, special efforts needed to be made to raise the level of milk productivity.
To meet the challenge of “lab to land” – taking scientific research to successful interventions – the prime minister exhorted agricultural colleges to start radio stations. Noting that farmers listen to radio a lot, he said radio programmes run by college students would prove extremely beneficial. He called for a digitised database of all agricultural research in the country. He said young educated and progressive farmers; and agricultural research scholars could together form a talent pool in all districts of the country.
The prime minister also called for a blue revolution that would extend the benefits of scientific research to the fisheries sector. He also called for greater research and promotion of coastal seaweed and Himalayan herbal medicinal plants.