Indian Agriculture Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar participated in the G-20 Agriculture Ministerial meeting organised by Italy on Saturday, the country which holds the Presidency of G20. Addressing the session on the topic “Research as a driving force behind sustainability”, Tomar said that agricultural research had played an important role in tackling the problem of food security, improving the income of farmers and agriculturists and sustainable use of natural resources for the subsistence of the people. Agricultural research contributes significantly to the three aspects of food security – availability, access and affordability.
The minister said that agricultural research in India had played a major role in transforming the country from being a food importer to an exporter. Integrated research efforts can develop a package of techniques and methodologies for improving soil productivity, water management for storage, expansion and efficiency. Technological progress is the key to solving the challenges facing mankind. Today, with an annual production of 308 million tonnes of foodgrains, India is not only in the realm of food security but is also catering to the needs of other countries. India has experienced a revolution in the field of agricultural produce due to the efficient research of scientists. Oilseeds Technology Mission doubled the production of oilseeds in 10 years. India has made great progress in pulses production in recent times due to the introduction of new varieties in the seed system.
Mitigating impact of climate change on agriculture
The agriculture minister explained that by the year 2030-31, India’s population is likely to exceed 150 crore, for which the demand for foodgrains is then estimated to be around 350 million tonnes. Similarly, the demand for edible oils, milk and milk products, meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits and sugar will increase significantly. In comparison, natural resources are limited and there is also the challenge of climate change. The strategy to meet the increased demand revolves around increasing productivity and increasing the income of farmers. Agriculture is facing the three biggest challenges of the 21st century – achieving food security, adapting and mitigating climate change. Important resources like water, energy and land are depleting rapidly. There is a need for sustainability in agriculture along with increasing production and income simultaneously, adapting to climate change by balancing crop, livestock, fisheries and agroforestry systems, increasing resource efficiency, protecting the environment and maintaining ecosystem services.
Tomar said that to make the country self-reliant, concerted efforts in agricultural research on genomics, digital agriculture, climate-smart technologies and methods, efficient water use equipment, development of high yielding and bio-friendly varieties, systematic production, quality and safety standards will continue. There is a need to rethink and adapt agricultural research and development, along with increasing investment in scientific research, to achieve adequate and nutritious food along with environmental sustainability. Working in this direction, we have developed and released 17 varieties of different crops which are resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses. Similarly, ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) is developing bio-fortified varieties to meet the nutritional requirement of the people. National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture has been launched which promotes integrated farming systems approach in agriculture. India will continue its efforts to cooperate in the exchange of best practices, in research and development and programmatic interventions to increase productivity through the promotion of trade and development of agricultural value chains, sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of the people.
Apart from Tomar, the Indian delegation included Dr. Abhilaksh Likhi, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare; Joint Secretary Alaknanda Dayal; Dr B Rajender and senior Indian Embassy officials.
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