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Swaminathan moots Bio-Valley for Second Green
Revolution
Monday, 16 February, 2009, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Well-known agriculture scientist Dr M S Swaminathan on Friday called for the creation of a Bio-Valley on the lines of the Silicon Valley to help India speed up the Second Green Revolution in order to remove hunger and increase the contribution of agriculture to GDP to over 25% and create huge agricultural employment.

Delivering the keynote address at the 6th Global Knowledge Millennium Summit organised by Assocham here, Dr Swaminathan said, "Bio-Valley is the need of the hour to transform Indian agriculture with nature-friendly food technologies that can ensure sustainable bio-diversity. Just as the Silicon Valley created information technology knowledge, the proposed Bio-Valley should primarily aim at catapulting a lot of Indian farmers with retaining soil fertility which has been drastically reduced following the First Green Revolution with excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides."

The proposed Bio-Valley should create a perfect balance between organic farming and green agriculture in an absolutely integrated manner in which genetically modified (GM) crops should be discouraged in a proportionate manner.

Mahinder Singh Tikait, well-known farmer and founder of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, who presided the Summit, stressed the need for an ad-mixture of modern technologies with those that are in vogue in India, based on its traditional agricultural practices. He regretted that agriculture still remains a second priority as at policy levels no one thinks of farmers and their plight. He pointed out that with excess uses of fertilizers, urea etc., the fertility of soil and water levels are gradually depleting to abysmal levels. This needs to be prevented, he emphasized.

Dr Philip Nelson, World Food Prize laureate 2007, Prudue University, USA, said that over 50% of agriculture produce, especially fruits and vegetables and grains, of Indian farmers were wasted due to infrastructure problems. India needs to seriously think about it so that it is able to save its food grain losses and adopt technologies to process food and fruits & vegetables.

Dr Nelson shared his own experience as to how he developed processing technologies for tomato pate, orange juice and other fruits and vegetables. He said he was able to achieve recognition for himself through scientific innovations and hard work and patience without which the world had not recognized his work especially on processing and making discoveries for packaging of farm articles.

Ashok Sinha, secretary, ministry of food processing, talked about the grand schemes for opening up of mega industrial food processing parks for which a subsidy of Rs 50 crore is giver per unit. The food processing budget in the 11th Plan has been hiked to Rs 4,000 crore which was Rs 650 crore for the 10th Plan period. This shows the importance that the government is giving to the food processing sector.

Anil K Agarwal, Assocham past president, said that the prime focus of the policy makers should be to make allocations for agriculture and sector so that farmers are made its beneficiary. Farmers, he said, should develop a mindset for accepting and adopting new technologies which should be imparted to them by opening a series of agricultural training institutes throughout the country.
 
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