The National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) organised the Third Agricultural Science Congress in collaboration with the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, Punjab, on March 12. The three-day-long seminar which concluded on March 15, discussed the changing aspects of agriculture over the past 50 years and emphasised the need to move towards more ecologically viable and sustainable agricultural means.
Delivering a special lecture on 'Sustainable Agriculture - The Key to a Sustainable India', noted agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan called for a national policy for sustainable food production keeping in mind water conservation, adequate land use and integrated pest management with less emphasis on toxic pesticides. "Rampant over-exploitation of natural resources like water and land in the name of more and more yield is not agriculture, it is soil mining," said Swaminathan.
He urged the scientists to opt for a paradigm shift from Green Revolution to 'Evergreen Revolution'. Accepting that groundwater levels are being affected in agricultural states like Punjab due to intensive irrigation, Swaminathan suggested that groundwater be treated and used as a public resource where every person has an equal share.
Earlier, while inaugurating the seminar, R S Paroda, president of NAAS, stated that a critical assessment of agricultural capabilities of natural resources is the need of the hour. He said that the country's agricultural scenario demands a shift from the age-old commodity-crop approach to a holistic farming system approach.
G S Khush of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, pointed out that while the world population is on a major upswing, there has not been any comparable increase in cultivated areas. He said that in most Asian countries, the cultivated area is declining due to severe pressure of urbanisation and industrialisation. "Thus, we will have to produce more food from less land and in a sustainable way, while protecting our environment and resource base," added Khush.