India needs to utilise technology at every stage from seed to harvest to emerge as a global leader in agriculture over the next few years, eminent experts and scientists said at an interactive discussion in Mumbai today.
They said the country would need to knit these available technologies in the most appropriate and economic manner to suit specific conditions and for the farmer to obtain optimum results.
The panel discussion at the Mumbai Press Club was chaired by Dr K R Kranthi, Director, Central Institute for Cotton Research, Nagpur and the distinguished panelists included Dr J S Pai, Executive Director of Proteins Foods and Nutrition Development Association of India.
Use of biotechnology and adoption of modern concepts could considerably reduce farmer’s woes and lift his income, they told the workshop organised by IndoAsiancommodities.com, a website devoted to in-depth analysis and opinions on commodities, farm technology and metals.
India is on a growth path and there is nothing like a laggard farmer, you give him the technology and he will grab it and prove it,” said Dr Kranthi.
He said in the last decade everything about agriculture, including cotton where yields have more than doubled, has changed.
“If a technology is good it cannot be stopped. The farmer has accepted technology. It is all a question of placement of right technologies at the right place,” Kranthi, who has done extensive research on cotton and has patents to his credit in India, South Africa and China, said.
He dismissed theories being floated around about the harmful effects of biotechnology and said scientific experiments have proved that these claims were baseless.
Dr Pai, an authority on food technology, said technology in agriculture is nothing but applied science and application of concepts like biotechnology was nothing new.
“Biotechnology which is properly tested and utilized should be introduced,” he said adding that even common food that we eat can have safety issues.
He said several safety panels in the state and government sector are examining these issues very minutely.
Pai said Bt cotton has been a success story after proper tests and hopefully in the coming years clearance will come for the commercialization of Bt brinjal and other food crops which are under various stages of testing.
He said there were several genes of crops which were being tested all over the world and India has also reached a stage where adoption of biotechnology for productivity and prosperity is necessary.
Dr Kranthi said several advances like herbicide resistant cotton technology and inter-culture operations were improving the crops and helping in saving on labour costs and keeping the fields clean.
He said rain- fed agriculture in states like Maharashtra was becoming a problem and we need to learn from countries such as Brazil which too is rain-fed on how it improved production and yields.
Dr Kranthi said the institute was trying high density planting system for cotton with use of early maturing seeds in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra with use of technology and the results should be known soon.
“We do not have any agriculture land which can be brought forward. In Brazil only 18 percent of land area is used for agriculture, in South America huge land area is untapped,” he said.
Within a short period some of these countries will be providing for India if we are unable to knit the technologies in a proper manner, Kranthi said.
He said India should have its own mechanism to utilize the large amount of technology that is available until the harvesting stage and still remains unutilised.
Experts also stressed on the need to adopt modern farm technology to step up productivity and ensure farmers prosperity while India’s economy is on a downward spiral and the agro-based country is on the threshold of a second green revolution.
Several suggestions to bolster agriculture growth through utilization of better seeds, cut input costs and provide assured income to the vast farming community which is under great stress on account of a weak rupee, high interest costs and growing debt were stressed during the lively workshop.
‘Technology as a Driver of Growth: Ensuring Farm Prosperity’, is the fifth in a series of media workshops and panel discussion on the importance of farm technology being organised by IndoAsiancommodites.com. The first such event was held in Jaipur and chaired by Dr Swapan Datta, Deputy Director General, Indian Council for Agricultural Research. The other events were held at Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.
Participating in the discussion the panelists said science and technology could be used to ensure value addition in crops and for evolving techniques for plants to withstand environmental and climate induced changes like droughts, floods and temperature fluctuations.