AIR spotlight summary on “First International Agro biodiversity Congress”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first International Agro biodiversity Congress where 900 delegates from 60 countries participated. The conference was organised by the Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources and Biodiversity International, a CGIAR Research Centre headquartered in Rome, Italy.
Significance of the conference
- This is important presently at a time when government is promoting ecological agriculture, sustainable agriculture, organic farming and aiming to improve the farmer’s income. The government has the target of doubling the farmer’s income by 2022.
- The Conference will lead to discussion and knowledge sharing on issues for efficient management of gene banks, science-led innovations in genetic resources, crop diversification, issues relating to quarantine, bio safety and bio security and intellectual property rights.
- Such conferences open up avenues for discussions and knowledge sharing. For example Mauritius use System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method for cultivation and Countries learn from each other’s best practices and try to adopt those best practices depending on the agro climatic situations and its feasibility. It helps innovation, improves productivity and income, and reduces cost.
- India learnt about drip and sprinkler irrigation from Israel which used it for fruits and vegetables cultivation. Sustainable agriculture or sustainable livelihood of small and marginal farmers depends on key knowledge and inputs. These conferences help in a long way.
- UN can declare one year as International Year of Biodiversity. This can play a part in generating more awareness. In 2014 it was the International year of family farming which created lot of awareness globally.
Emphasis on Diversified Agriculture
- Through diversified agriculture, the farmers risk in crop farming is reduced. The mono cropping cannot ensure enough income or adequate access to livelihood security and food security. Mixed farming is the best guarantee for farmer’s income.
- Traditionally Indian farmers use to follow mixed cropping and reduced their risk, and improved their income. Currently after Green Revolution we are heading towards mono cropping. This created lot of problems in terms of erosion of soil health, water depletion etc.
- Food grain production particularly cereals was the focus of Green Revolution. The government is working towards diversifying in favour of pulses, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables and promoting crops which India is deficient. The total contribution of food grains to the total value of output of all agricultural commodities is about 25%.
- Another area is Animal husbandry. Animal husbandry contributes about 28% of the total value of agricultural output. It requires small area for cultivating fodder crops. There is a huge potential and harnessing it is beneficial for the farmer.
- Blue revolution refers to fish revolution. Fish production has increased in the last few years but the growth rate is slow. India has a tremendous potential both in marine and inland fisheries. In places where there is good rainfall and with a small pond people can cultivate fish and earn lot of income. Under MGNREGA the government is emphasising on creating new ponds and tanks. These ponds are not only the sources for irrigation but also for fish culture.
- Government is also emphasising on how to improve marine fisheries with technological innovations, marketing etc.
Government’s role in improving Agricultural production
- Now the government is working towards organic farming, integrated pest management, proving soil health cards which are towards promoting ecological framing and protection of bio diversity. This way farmers risk in agriculture can be minimised and income can be improved along with maintaining soil health.
- Both centre and the states have an important role to play. Central government is currently focussing on critical schemes which will have impact on farmer’s income. Central government provides funds for the schemes implemented by the state government. For instance Agriculture Insurance scheme which is central sponsored scheme and 50% premium is borne by the states.
- Government is encouraging farmers for pulses cultivation by fixing higher prices and procuring them for centralised distribution through retail outlets and cooperatives.
- The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)commonly known as Pusa Institute is India’s premier national Institute for agricultural research which is working towards new technologies and varieties for pulses production.