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PM asks scientists to make affordable technologies

"Technologies must be relevant to farmers," PM said while inaugurating the Indian Science Congress in Hyderabad.

tech reviews Updated: Jan 03, 2006 18:36 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday urged Indian scientists to develop affordable and relevant technologies in both farm and non-farm business to help bridge the urban-rural divide and create more jobs in villages.

"The technologies we develop must be economically affordable and relevant to small and marginal farmers, especially in drought prone regions," Manmohan Singh said while inaugurating the 93rd Indian Science Congress at the Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University in Hyderabad.

"We need a harmonious blend of advanced science and technology, appropriate technology and local knowledge to ensure an equitable distribution of the benefits of new knowledge."

Attended by over 5,000 leading Indian and overseas scientists, including Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, the meet focuses this year on the role of science and technology in promoting integrated rural development.

Acknowledging the criticism against the first Green Revolution that helped India achieve self-sufficiency in food grain production in the 1960s, the prime minister said the second Green Revolution should not focus on needs of irrigated lands and large farmers but the small and marginal ones.

Endorsing the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers headed by MS Swaminathan, noted agriculture scientist and one of the leading lights of the Green Revolution, the prime minister called for a "programme for agricultural renewal as a starting point for the Second Green Revolution".

To achieve this goal, the prime minister spoke of focus on seven components, including soil health enhancement, water conservation, affordable credit to farmers, development and dissemination of appropriate technologies to farmers and improved farm marketing infrastructure.

Two other major areas of focus suggested by him were application of science and biotechnology for improvement in seed quality and utilisation of herbal and other plants as well as the application of science to improve productivity of livestock and poultry.

"There is much that science and technology can do in each of these seven areas. There is much that agricultural universities can and must do in each of these areas," the prime minister told the congress.

Manmohan Singh pointed out that while the share of agriculture in GDP had declined to about 24 percent, the population dependent on agriculture was not declining as rapidly.

"This is creating rural distress and contributing also to enforced migration to urban areas. The only sensible response to this trend is to create productive employment opportunities in rural areas both in the farm and non-farm sectors."

"Scientists and technologists must develop labour - using technologies both in agriculture and rural manufacturing so that jobs can be created closer home for those of our citizens who live in villages."

To achieve this, the prime minister called for stepping up investment in skill development, financing of labour-using technologies on the farm like packaging, processing and marketing produce.

The prime minister also called for developing new functional townships away from existing cities to attract new investments in manufacturing and services sector in rural areas.

Urging agricultural universities to play an active role in realising these goals, Manmohan Singh stressed the need for decentralised energy generation as well as development of social and economic infrastructure development.

"Excessive centralisation has been the bane of development in India," the prime minister said, urging local markets to develop their own solutions to address local problems.

First Published: Jan 03, 2006 18:26 IST