By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: With an indication of an alarming growth in the population, a fear psychosis has arisen among experts in the field of agriculture and genetics in terms of ensuring food security for the masses.
Experts has pointed out that though the country has been growing at the rate of 3.5 per cent annually in the last five years, yet the agricultural productivity still ranks far below the best in the world.
Turning to the North Eastern region, experts stated that though the region is blessed with enormous natural resources yet the question of food production deficiency still arises.
“There is a need to increase production of food grain by at least 10 metric tonnes every year to feed the ever-increasing population of our country,” Director of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and president of the Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding (ISGPB), Dr HS Gupta, emphasized.
Meghalaya Governor RS Mooshahary, in his presidential address, said that the low productivity rate is a sign of stagnation and inability of the farming techniques and systems to exploit the yield potential with the application of technology that can raise land productivity with less use of water.
Mooshahary was addressing a two-day National Seminar on ‘Plant Genetic Research for Eastern and North-Eastern India’ jointly organised by ISGPB and Indian Council for Agricultural Research at the ICAR Research Complex at Umiam here on Friday.
“Meghalaya in specific is facing the problem of food grain deficiency which has haunted the State for a while now. There is a need to bridge this gap and increase productivity of food grains in the state under ideal farm conditions,” the Governor added.
In Meghalaya, the pH (potential Hydrogen) value of the soil is found to be below five and in some places it is as low as three, he said, adding that “The worst is in open coal mine areas where the pH value is as low as one”.
With special references to the scientists in this field, Mooshahary said they, being the backbone of the rural livelihood can eliminate the threat from hunger and environmental ruin by harnessing the best in frontier technologies and integrate them with the traditional wisdom of the farmers and create an impetus for agro-eco-technology movement.
“Despite these problems our food grain production is set to exceed 250 million tons, an all time record this year,” Mooshahary noted.
Coming down hard on corruption, the Governor said corruption is the biggest stumbling block to development endeavours and in agricultural development too and it has prevented many schemes from bearing fruit.
“The banks and other financial institutions which are crucial in the development of agriculture often play spoil sport,” he observed, adding that there are still countless villages in which government interventions are either unseen or at most minimal.
Suggesting ways and means to overcome this menace, Mooshahary said introduction of targetted doorstep delivery service to the farmers is one way of reducing corruption and ensuring efficiency in agricultural sector.
Meanwhile, Advisor to Bihar Chief Minister, Dr Mangala Rai, reflected on the famous quotation of Jawaharlal Nehru with regards to agriculture: “Everything can wait but not agriculture”.
He stressed on use of usable variability with effective tools and techniques for evolvement of varieties while advising to evaluate the available germ plasm with reference to various uses.
“A study of the root system of the plant is needed to evolve the horticultural variety having more shelf-life,” he observed.
Among other dignitaries who were present on the occasion included Dr KM Bujarbarua, Vice Chancellor of Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat, Dr SN Puri, Vice Chancellor of Central Agricultural University, Imphal, Dr SV Ngachan, Director ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region besides 150 delegates from all over the country.