'India needs latest crop technology to address food security'

'India needs latest crop technology to address food security'

"Our population is growing at about 15 million annually and by 2020, we would need to increase our foodgrain production from the current 235 million tonnes to 285 million tonnes," R K Paroda, a former secretary of the Department of Agricultural Research And Education (DARE), said at an interaction organised by the Asia-Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology (APCoAB) and Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS).

However, during the past several years, growth in farm production has been around 2 per cent, whereas there is a need to achieve 4 per cent growth to meet the growing demand, he added.

"Genetically Modified (GM) technology is a globally recognised way to improve productivity, profitability and sustainability of farm production systems, including the small farm holdings," DARE Deputy Director General (Crop Science) Swapan Kumar Dutta said.

Elaborating on Dutta's statement, Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ACRB) Chairman C D Mayee said that an example to follow is that of Bt cotton, the sowing area of which has reached 9.4 million hectares, nearly 86 per cent of the total 11 million hectares under cotton in the country.

Speaking at the stakeholders' interface on GM food crops, Mayee said, "Since the farm level cultivation of GM crops began in 1996, the global area under GM crops in 2011 reached 148 million hectares, with 29 countries growing them."

Even in China, GM crops, such as cotton, papaya, tomato and sweet potato, are being grown over 3.5 million hectares and approval has been granted for GM rice and maize, Mayee added.

Paroda, while commenting on the countrywide protests over GM and BT crops, said there is a need to make people aware of the technology.

"India should provide an enabling environment for GM seed propagation and a single window system for seed testing," he said.