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Only 11% of the global land considered prime land

Only about 11 per cent of the global land surface can be considered prime land which must feed the 6 bn people, writes Satyen Mohapatra.

india Updated: Oct 30, 2006 16:24 IST

Today only about 11 per cent of the global land surface can be considered prime land and it alone must feed the 6 billion people of today and the over 8 billion that are expected by the year 2020, said Secretary General World Meteorological Organization M Jarraud here on Monday.

Addressing the Fourteenth Session of the Commission for Agriculuture Meteorology being held here he said desertification is one of the most alarming degradation,since it adds to the vulnerability of agriculture,forestry and rangelands to natural disasters,by destroying natural barriers.

From 1980 to 2005 ,over 7,000 natural disasters worldwide ,caused by landslides ,droughts ,floods ,cyclones,sand storms,storm surges,wild fires and other natural hazards have taken the lives of nearly two million people and produced economic losses of above one trillion US dollars,he added.

He said agricultural production is highly dependent on weather ,on climate change and on water availability, so these extreme events  can have significant impacts on food security. Today over 800 million people are undernourished in the developing countries,as compared to 9 million in the industrialized nations, he added.

As developing nations are lacking in resources and skills cost effective technologies like mobile phones and wireless technologies are indeed the way to go in for providing information, monitoring capabilities and early warnings to rural communities, he said.

There is need for reinforcing training in the fields of remote sensing ,specialized software and GIS in relation to the rapidly developing field of Information Technology for Agro meteorology, he added.

In light of growing concern with respect to a possible climate change and the eventual associated impacts on agriculture, forestry and fisheries it is more important to further promote agrometeorological research and applications,he said.

Union Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Minister Kapil Sibal expressing concern at the number of persons leaving agriculture and going to cities all over the world said that in next 30 to 40 years there may not be enough agriculture production to feed the  world . “Agriculture is not a national issue anymore  but a global issue”,he added.

In India while productivity per acre had been going down the country faced the challenge of producing two times what it was doing now by 2025 to meet the expected population increase, he said.

WMO and agro meteorological services played a key role in collecting and disseminating weather related data to farmers in remote areas but farmers in most countries did not have the wherewithal to access the data like computers, he said.

The global financial institutions must invest in the area of instrumentation and data disbursement, he added.