`Raise small farm productivity to ensure food security'

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Prof. M.S. Swaminathan
Prof. M.S. Swaminathan

Our Bureau

Hyderabad, May 11

THE hidden hunger in people is the direct result of hidden hunger of soil. Analysis of soil samples from some parts of the country has shown that soil is deficient in sulphur and micronutrients.

Referring to the widespread under-nutrition and malnutrition, Dr M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, said every third child born was underweight with serious consequences for brain development.

He was delivering the AV Rama Rao Endowment Technology Day Award Lecture instituted by the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) on Wednesday. He received the maiden award from Dr Rama Rao and a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.

Speaking on `Beyond the Green Revolution', Dr Swaminathan, one of the architect's of the Green Revolution, said India proved sceptics wrong.

"From being a can't-be-saved condition, the country could achieve self-sufficiency in food."

Stating that India was among the world's leading hunger hotspots, he said that enhancing small farm productivity held the key to ensuring food security for the people at large.

The laboratories that were involved in agri-related issues should have pro-poor, pro-nature and pro-women orientation.

Though dogged by hunger, the country faced no big famines after Independence. "Poverty, not the lack of food, is responsible for hunger," he said.

Fighting the "famine of sustainable livelihood opportunities" was also very important. Unlike in the West, the difference between the consumer and producer was minimal.

By 2007, when India would turn 60, the country should aim for hunger-free India, while making every village a knowledge centre.

Calling for efforts to bring down pressure on ground water, Dr Swaminathan said free power would result in more pressure on ground water.

"Our ability to achieve a paradigm shift from green to an evergreen revolution and our ability to face the challenges of global warming and sea level rise will depend upon our ability to harmonise organic farming and the new genetics." He suggested that the Government set up a consortium of educational and research institutes to boost agriculture in the State.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 12, 2005)
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