Stating that the Food Security Act could be implemented only if there was enough food, noted agricultural scientist, Dr M S Swaminathan has said that India can have proper food security if the natural resources in the country were put to proper use and enough storage facilities were built to house the agriculture produce.Delivering a lecture on ‘safeguarding national food security in an era of climatic changes’ at the National Institute of Oceanography on the occasion of foundation day of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the noted scientist who is also called the father of Green Revolution said the challenge before the authorities and scientists was how to create jobs and income using the natural resources in the country.
He also called for setting up of national grid for grain storage and emphasised on the need for setting up 50 modern grain storages, which could help in providing national food security, even as he also called for setting up smaller community storage facilities at the community level. He also highlighted on the need for creating large buffer stocks.
Further stating that there has been genetic erosion over the years, the noted scientist also emphasised on the need for setting up gene bank, seed bank, grain bank and water bank. He went on to remind the audience of the statement of the first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that India was a rich country with poor people and called for using the rich resources for the benefit of the people.
Dealing on the issue of how areas below sea level were used by the farmers in Kerala for production of rice during monsoon and fish production in off-monsoon season, Dr Swaminathan said that Khazan lands in Goa, which were similar to those in Kerala, could also be used for double “crops” and urged the scientists and local authorities to find means to use the Kerala formula.
He stressed on the need for increasing productivity without associated ecological harm, even as he emphasised on the need for adopted organic agriculture, more particularly on the need for cultivation without use of chemical inputs like mineral fertilisers and chemical pesticides. He said that organic agricultural activity was gaining popularity world over, which has also helped in soil fertility replenishment.
Underscoring the point that the food security in the country was reasonably good but economical access to food was not adequate, particularly because of volatile prices of food items, Dr Swaminathan stressed on the need for being self-reliant on homegrown food production and insulation of oneself from volatile prices.
“Though the poverty was on the decline in the country,” he said that more efforts were needed to be made by the year 2015 to alleviate the cause of the poor people even as he said the government policies on food security and fighting hunger were not adequate. He also emphasised on the need for increasing the yield of pulses in the country and bridging the gap between production and consumption.
Dealing on the issue of climatic changes, he said that even an increase of temperature by one degree during the night could affect the production of agriculture produce like that of wheat and called for steps to prevent global warming. He also called for development of genes for climatic resilience.
Pointing out the need for anticipating seed agenda to face any situation in future, the top agricultural scientist in the country said that there was also need for preserving biodiversity for sustainable food security. He also called for the need environmental literacy to overcome natural deficit disorder.
Dr Swaminathan, while dealing on the issue of mangroves, said that they provide genetic shield against sea level rise and also provide bio-shield in situations like Tsunami, even as he said that modern science has to be used for convergence and synergy of the resources for the benefit of the society.