With a view to come up with long-term solutions to the problems of agriculture in Maharashtra, Mumbai University and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) jointly organised a regional roundtable conference Thursday. Representatives from MU and CII focused on drought across the state and discussed ways to find out long-term technology-based economic, political, social solutions to the issue.
MU Vice-Chancellor Dr Sanjay Deshmukh discussed forward-thinking policies and actions on dealing with issues of productivity, subsidies and hunger. He said, “There needs proper thinking on how new technologies can be applied across sectors, including agriculture to help increase sustainability, productivity and make more efficient use of our existing water resources.”
Former secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Madhav Chitale said drought was not a new phenomenon, adding that there had been a good rainfall between 1900 and 1926, and Ahmednagar had been receiving less rainfall for only 15 years. “We need to first improve our rainfall measurement techniques. Water should also be measured accurately. There should be restrictions on use of water in farming sector. China switched over to corn from rice to save water,” he said.
Chitale suggested switching over to other crops from paddy. “Some of the farmers continue to grow water-consuming crops only. Encouraging the use of recycled water in farming too may help,” he said.
Industrialists Krantisen Shroff, chairman emeritus, Excel Industries; and Ashwin Shroff, chairman, CII Agribiotech Committee, and CMD, Excel Industries Ltd; and Ram Bhogale, corporate leader from Marathwada, were also present in the conference.