The Telegraph
Wednesday , August 21 , 2013
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Agro loss link to erratic rains

- Expert from Mexico feels India should change policies

An international agricultural expert has felt that India is expecting great losses in agriculture productivity because of climate changes, erratic monsoon, increased use of fertilisers, overlapping mandate and other reasons by 2050.

Delivering the Nalanda University “distinguished lecture” series, “Changing climate, populations and diets: Can Chinese and Indian agriculture be sustained?”, Thomas Adam Lumpkin, the director-general of International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, Mexico, and Borlaug Institute of South Asia, highlighted the various issues on which the Indian agriculture system differs from the Chinese.

Lumpkin, the agriculture expert who has years of experience working on Green Revolution, pointed out that it is high time that India should work steadily in maintaining right balance between ecological changes and using optimum use of resources available.

Lumpkin said: “With changes in ecology, seal level is going to rise coupled with erratic monsoon, which will lead to increase in frequency and intensity of flood.”

He raised the issue that it is because of ecological changes that the Uttarakhand region faced severe floods recently. Moreover, he highlighted that in coming years India has to face big problem in per capita availability of freshwater, 63 per cent of India total agriculture is rain-fed and the groundwater is depleting in Punjab and other regions.

The issue of depleting groundwater in Punjab and other northern states is use of multiple crops by farmers of Punjab. Elaborating on the topic, Lumpkin said: “Farmers in Punjab in the last one decade have gone for dry season paddy cultivation using ground water thereby decreasing the groundwater in the region.”

Lumpkin started his lecture series with comparing both the Indian and Chinese agriculture system right from Nalanda era, going to post Independence era. The agriculture expert threw lights of land and agricultural reforms both the countries have adopted since 1960 with Chinese government banning the private food production system, while the Indian government introducing land reforms.

However, despite taking various measures by both the countries India’s agricultural production is less as compared to the Chinese. In total grain production, India ranked third after China and US while China leads the world in wheat production.

Lumpkin explained that apart from various corrective reforms taken by the Chinese government, one the major reasons behind China moving ahead of India in total grain production is its geographical location.

Lumpkin said: “As moving northwards in China, the average day hour in China is 16-18 hours while in India it is just 10-12 hours.” To increase total grain production, Lumpkin suggested to introduce genetically modified (GM) seeds in country.

However, Mangala Rai, the former director-general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and agriculture adviser to the chief minister, who chaired the lecture, claimed that the GM seeds are not good for a country like India. Rai said India should keep away from faulty fertiliser policy and instead of increasing fertilisers, farmers in India should go for using organic farming.

Nalanda University vice-chancellor Gopa Sabharwal was also present.

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