19th August, 2013, New Delhi
Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon'ble President of India inaugurated the 5th BGRI (Borlaug Global Rust Initiative) 2013 Technical Workshop at Vigyan Bhavan, here today. In his address, he underlined the contributions and services of Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug in making this country self-sufficient in food production. Dr. Borlaug's intervention helped improve food security in the South Asian region. This region today is the largest contiguous wheat growing region in the world. Dr. Borlaug, for developing high yielding wheat varieties and for his fight against stem rust, earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, he said.
Appreciating the continuance of work led by Dr. Borlaug, he said that research on wheat continues unabated in India is a legacy of Dr. Borlaug. Since 1965, four hundred three wheat varieties have been developed and released for commercial cultivation in the six wheat growing zones of the country. These varieties have been released after stringent evaluation for yield, nutritional content and disease resistance. The untiring efforts of scientists and researchers at the various institutes of ICAR, including the Directorate of Wheat Research, and state agricultural universities have provided farmers with new wheat varieties and technical know-how to increase the yield of their crop, he added.
Shri Sharad Pawar, Union Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, in his speech highlighted the importance of this event for Indian and global food security. He recalled earlier days of acute food shortages during pre-green revolution period and lauded the role of Dr. Borlaug, Dr. M.S. Swaminathan and other wheat scientists in increasing the production and productivity of wheat to new heights.
Ms. Jeanie Borlaug, Chair, BGRI and daughter of Dr Borlaug felicitated the President and shared the memories of her childhood visit to India along with Dr. Borlaug. She said that her father was a strong advocate of use of biotechnological tools for alleviating hunger from the world, especially developing countries.
Dr Ronnie Coffman, Vice-Chair, BGRI and Director of International Programme at Cornell University welcomed the dignitaries, delegates and invitees. He outlined objectives, research initiatives and accomplishments of BGRI with reference to incidence of rust in India and subcontinent.
Dr. S. Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE and Director General, ICAR in his remarks said that Dr. Borlaug was a researcher without boundaries. He traced the history of wheat production and subsequent revolution in India bringing the total production to a record height of nearly 95 million tons. BGRI has strengthened the wheat research programme of India particularly in tackling the menace of rust in India, he added. He hoped that the deliberations in the BGRI technical workshop will come out with a robust road map for further enhancing the productivity of wheat.
Shri Ashish Bahuguna, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture in his remarks hoped that India will harvest full potential of modern technologies to increase the production and productivity of wheat also spoke on the occasion. He suggested that Indian scientists should strengthen their research programmes to achieve the much needed nutritional security for the country.
Dr. Swapan K. Dutta, DDG (ICAR) proposed vote of thanks.
The event is being organized in commemoration of Dr. Borlaug’s first visit to India in 1963. The technical workshop (19-22nd August, 2013) is being jointly organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and BGRI. BGRI was launched in 2005 by Dr. Norman Borlaug, who warned “rust never sleeps.” It was a outcome of Dr. Borlaug’s campaign for the establishment of a coordinated, international effort to contain the threat of rust to global food security. Around 500 delegates from more than 50 countries are participating in the event.
(Source: NAIP Mass Media Project, DKMA, ICAR)