Dr Swaminathan calls an evergreen revolution in India

Ludhiana, 26th April 2011

 Dr Swaminathan calls an evergreen revolution in IndiaThe seeds of ‘Green Revolution’ in India were sown in Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and the seeds of ‘Evergreen Revolution’ should also be sown in PAU” stated the Father of India’s Green Revolution, Dr M.S. Swaminanthan at a seminar organized here, today.

Delivering a lecture on “Shaping our agricultural future in an era of climate change,” the Member of the Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Dr Swaminathan said that it is the duty of scientists to shape the future and not merely predict it. Hailing the enormous contribution of Punjab farmers towards the national food security, he added, “farmers have done their job of producing plenty of food grains, but the problem of how to handle, store and distribute the grains still remains there.” Price volatility is a threat to the food security as the petroleum and energy prices were shooting up day-by-day. Tracing the history of Green Revolution, he said that in 1963-64, during the visit of Dr Norman Borlaug, there were extensive multi-location trials of semi-dwarf wheat selections followed by national demonstrations in farmers’ fields, standardization of agronomic and irrigation practices in 1964-65. The nation witnessed a quantum jump in production which led to the onset of the Wheat Revolution in 1967-68.

 Dr Swaminathan calls an evergreen revolution in IndiaDr. Swaminathan discussed pathways and strategies of taking on to an era of evergreen revolution and highlighted social, economic and ecological concerns for food security which he said depends upon availability access and absorption of foodgrains. He discussed the issue from various dimensions including the non-farm employment, service sector development, market linkages, etc. India has rich traditional worth of indigenous knowledge pertaining to sustainable agriculture, observed he, adding that it must be put to useful purpose.

Referring to G.R. Symphony’s (1968) major components of Green Revolution–technology, services, public policies and farmers’ enthusiasm, Dr Swaminathan pointed out that the enthusiasm among the farmers was on the decline and stressed, “revolution cannot be brought in by the scientists, only ‘Kisans’ (farmers) can take this message forward.”

Quoting Albert Schweitzer’s few lines; he said “Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the Earth,” the internationally known agricultural scientist emphasized on the need for genetic checkmating of new disease threat. If farm ecology and economics go wrong, nothing else will go right as they are necessary for the sustainable production. Describing ‘Evergreen Revolution,’ as the increasing productivity in perpetuity without ecological harm, he laid stress on the ‘organic agriculture’ which meant cultivation without use of chemical pesticides and ‘green agriculture’ which meant conservation agriculture with the help of integrated pest management, integrated nutrient supply and integrated natural resource management. Agro forestry system involving fertilizer trees was another component of evergreen revolution, added he.

Dr Swaminanthan divulged that ‘adaptation’ to new consequences and what contribution agriculture can make to ‘mitigate’ climate change were the focus areas of the changing climatic conditions. Throwing light on bio-concepts, he divulged that people can manage the climate through bio-villages-natural resources of climate and enhancement and sustainable livelihood (leaf stitching, mushroom production etc.). He referred to bio-valley which aims at promoting bio-happiness and stated “Biovalley is to Biotechnology (BT) what Silicon Valley is to Information Technology (IT). Biomass, another concept, is an under utilized resource for enhancing income energy and work security.

According to the Cancum agreements (2010) with emphasis on implications for wheat production, Dr Swaminathan revealed that for each 1 degree celsius rise in mean temperature, wheat yield losses in India are likely to be around 6 million tones per year or around $ 1.5 billion at current prices. IFPRI projects that rainfed wheat yields in South Asia will decrease by around 44% by 2050, if adaptation measures are not put in place, added he.

The biggest challenge for the agriculture community is dealing with natural calamities such as the drought or flood situation. Protection measures are a must, stressed he. In the changing scenario of climate, farmers should adopt mixed cropping and climate resilient farming. “Biodiversity is the feedstock for climate resilient farming,” remarked he, adding that traditional knowledge has to be blended with the modern technology for sustainable agriculture.

Stating that availability, access and absorption were the important factors of the Food Security Bill, the noted agricultural scientist told that Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) is one of the best social programmes for agriculture in which Rs 60,000 crore have been spent in the country.

The decadal growth of Indian population in 2011 has been recorded as 17.6% and if the population policy goes wrong, nothing else will have a change to go right. Concluding, Dr Swaminathan said that as climate science is important in agriculture; the bottom line of national agricultural policy should be the economic well being of farm families, food security of nation, health security of consumer and bio-security of agriculture.

 Dr Swaminathan calls an evergreen revolution in IndiaOn this occasion, Dr Swaminathan and PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr Manjit Singh Kang, released a poster carrying a poetic message “If water is saved, Punjab will be saved,” by a noted Punjabi poet Late Mr. Inderjit Hasan Puri. It has been brought out by Centre for Communication and International Linkages, PAU. The international Earth Day, of which the seminar was a part at PAU was dedicated to Dr. Swaminathan. He was given a standing ovation on the occasion. The poster was distributed among the participants.

While interacting with the Deans, Directors and officers of PAU, Dr. Swaminathan said that Punjab is the mainstay of public distribution system. He shared that there should be enough land for germplasm maintenance for a purposeful crop improvement programme. Foodgrains storage is a major concern for which national policy is required, emphasized Dr. Swaminathan. He said that out of the eight missions of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, sustainable agriculture is the one as it is linked with the sustainability of food security. He delved that maize, especially quality protein maize (QPM) and arhar can fit in the diversification of agriculture. Pulses, need more focus as they enrich soil with atmospheric nitrogen fixation. Dr. Swaminathan said that for the success of the programme, farmers must get more income and there should be water saving land use pattern. He said that the minimum support price of agricultural commodities should be based on the actual production expenditure (C-2 cost) plus 50% of it.

Later, Dr. Swaminathan held a meeting with the members of PAU Kisan Club and interacted on various issues pertaining to agriculture. The Club President, Mr. Pavittar Pal Singh Pangli brought to his notice the need for starting facilities of farmers pensions and health care as well as women credit cards. He expressed the farmers concern for the early implementation of food security act. Mr. Pangli highlighted that the storage infrastructure needs to be enhanced and that the export of malted barley and wheat holds potential. He suggested that the setting up of seed banks at the village level can be helpful.

Dr. Manjit Singh Kang, Vice-Chancellor, PAU while thanking Dr. Swaminathan for his visiting PAU, delivering a talk for the benefit of students and faculty members and surveying Punjab mandis and purchase centers, said that everyone acknowledges Dr. Swaminathan's contribution towards green revolution and that he is comprehensive, informative and thought provoking ideas will motivate the scientists and agriculturists to strive for excellence.

Dr. S.S. Gosal, Director of Research thanked Dr. Swaminathan and all participants.

(Source: Punjab Agricultural University , Ludhiana, Email: pau [dot] commatgmail [dot] com)