A top government official urged scientists to explore whether biotechnology could be utilised to improve agricultural production in the country. “This was necessary in the light of the decreasing cultivable land, degradation of land and dwindling fresh water resources,” said P Rama Mohan Rao, principal secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu, and Agricultural Production Commissioner.
He was addressing the 'AgBio' 2011-Global Summit on Agbio innovations, at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in Coimbatore. “Besides developing new technologies for wise and judicious use of water sources, there was also the need to develop new varieties capable of withstanding droughts and floods,” Rao said. There were good traditional varieties with the ability to withstand the vagaries of the climate and also stay pest and disease resistant. However, these traits were vanishing due to the advent of hybrid varieties.
Stating that good traditional varieties have to be incorporated through biotechnology in order to improve the crop yield, he added that innovation in the field was necessary to make agriculture more remunerative. As far as Tamil Nadu was concerned, more than 90% of groundwater was utilised and the amount of surface water was also drying up.
The TNAU vice-chancellor, Murugesa Bhoopathi, said the future of world food security was dependent on the developments made in the field of biotechnology. The summit, with a theme 'ensuring food, nutrition, energy and health security', discussed contemporary issues in agricultural biotechnology in different areas including the impact of climate change on crop productivity, genetically-modified organisms (GMO) and bio-safety, technology transfer and supply chains.