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PM calls for a second green revolution in rice

He expresses concern that the growth rate of rice production and productivity in India has tapered off.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2006 09:50 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday called for a Second Green Revolution in rice and improvement in the economics of rice cultivation and resource use.

Delivering the inaugural address at the Second International Rice Congress he expressed concern that the growth rate of rice production and productivity in India had tapered off in recent years.

We need a “new boost” to rice production and productivity,he declared.We also need to improve the economics of rice cultivation by finding alternative uses for by-products like rice straw,he added.

Mr Singh said, “We need a concerted effort to develop rice varieties for submergence tolerance, drought tolerance and for wider adaptation to climate change.”

“There are some anxieties about the risks associated with new biotechnological products which can at the same time provide food security for the poor.We need to strike a balance between using the potential of biotechnology to meet the requirements of hungry people while addressing ethical concerns about interfering with nature,” Mr Singh added.

Rice grown under irrigated conditions is facing the threat of water shortage .This is forcing a paradigm shift towards maximizing output per unit of water instead of per unit of land. Can you come out with technologies that convince farmers to use less water in rice production without compromising on returns ? Dr Singh asked.

Indian agriculture as a whole also faced the challenge of maximizing output per unit of water instead of per unit of land in both irrigated and rainfed areas.

“ We need scientific,technological,economic and importantly institutional responses to meet this challenge,”he added.

He said for us in India rice is more than a mere commodity, it is an integral part of our civiization,of most religious and social ceremonies.

Pointing out that rice is produced by millions of small holders over a wide geographic spread with hardly any bargaining power, he said, “we need a multilateral trade regime that enables rice farmers to harness the full potential of their resources and capabilities” .

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said development of hybrid rice has shown the promise of breaking the technological barrier and increase rice production by 25 – 30 per cent. In India approximately one million hectare rice area is today occupied by hybrid rice and our target is to bring 3 million hectares under hybrid rice by 2010.

Mr Pawar also cautioned that with introduction of high yielding varieties and hybrids the genetic diversity is eroding in most of the countries.It may have serious implications for future R&D effiorts in search of ‘desired genes.’ Maintaining and conserving rice bio diversity and utilizing it intelligently for underprivileged regions and people would facilitate the development of affordable technologies, he added.

First Published: Oct 10, 2006 08:30 IST