Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday inaugurate the first International Agrobiodiversity Congress in the national capital where 900 delegates from 60 countries will discuss conservation of genetic resources. The conference, to be held here on November 6-9, is being organised by the Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources and Biodiversity International, a CGIAR Research Centre headquartered in Rome, Italy.
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“Biodiversity conservation has become important. The status in our country is not satisfactory. We will have to do much more,” said M S Swaminathan, an eminent scientist. “It is the duty of every nation to conserve biodiversity,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Deputy Director General (crop sciences) J S Sandhu said the Congress will provide a platform for knowledge sharing as well as exchange of germplasm, a collective union of germ cells.
“The conference will also deliberate on the issue of efficient management of gene banks at low cost with the use of new innovative technology,” Sandhu added. Agrobiodiversity is defined as the variety and variability of animals, plant and micro-organism that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture. It includes all species that are closely inter-woven in an agricultural ecosystem.
“India is the perfect venue for the first-ever International Agrobiodiversity Congress as it is one of the most diverse countries in the world. It takes up only 2.4 per cent of the world’s land area and yet it harbours 7-8 per cent of all recorded species, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals,” an ICAR release said. The Congress will lead to discussion and knowledge sharing on issues for efficient management of gene banks, science-led innovations in genetic resources, crop diversification, issues relating to quarantine, biosafety and biosecurity and intellectual property rights.
In the Congress, a road map will be prepared to enhance food, nutrition and health security by optimal utilisation of agrobiodiversity while protecting agro-ecosystems. The Congress is expected to adopt ‘Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity management and use’. It seeks to develop a network of partnerships to strengthen biodiversity management system at national, regional and global levels.