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Alarm bells at crop summit: ‘Acute food scarcity in India by 2020’

India needs to prepare itself in advance as acute foodgrain scarcity is likely by 2020.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar |
January 14, 2011 1:31:00 am

With the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) projecting that India will require 30 per cent growth in rice and cereal production,140 per cent in pulses and 243 per cent growth in oilseeds to feed the burgeoning population in the next 10 years,a two-day India International Crop Summit organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Bhubaneshwar on January 10-11 discussed food insecurity threadbare.

“India needs to prepare itself in advance as acute foodgrain scarcity is likely by 2020,” said Swapan K Dutta,deputy director general(crop),ICAR,at the crop summit.

The summit looked at India’s position in the global crop production market and the need to meet the demands of a rapidly changing global crop production industry against the background of a world demanding 50 per cent more food,30 per cent more water,and 50 per cent more energy by 2030.

Dutta said though the country in 2009 produced 100 million tonnes of rice,it would require about 130 million tonnes of rice in 2020 while the requirement of wheat would reach 110 million tonnes in 2020 against production of only 80 million tonnes in 2009.

While there was demand for more foodgrain by 2020,rice yields could fall by 15 per cent to 42 per cent,wheat by 34 per cent due to possible drought,salinity and submergence,an ICAR report said,adding that the net agriculture revenue would decline by 12.3 per cent if temperature changes by 2 degrees Celsius and rainfall by just 7 per cent.

Incidentally,for the past few decades,the total cultivable land is fixed at 140 million hectares in the country,he said.

Dutta said efforts should be made to increase productivity through promotion of hybrid seeds,which are tolerant to flood,drought and salinity and take up need-based crop which are suited to local soil.

Attended by farmer bodies,officers from union agriculture ministry,consumer affairs and public distribution ministry,scientists from agriculture universities of Orissa,West Bengal as well as research bodies and delegates of pest companies like Bayer and seed companies like Nuziveedu Seeds Limited and Monsanto India Limited,the two-day programmes discussed various critical issues pertaining to crop production,processing,consumption,marketing,role of agriculture in addressing malnutrition and climate change.

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,who inaugurated the summit,cautioned against the adverse impact of climate change on agriculture.

“While one half of Orissa had better than normal rainfall,the other half faced a severe deficit. During the current monsoon season,the country as a whole received normal rains but parts of Orissa,West Bengal,Jharkhand,Bihar and Uttar Pradesh faced severe deficit leading to droughts,” Naveen said.

An important part of the summit was the release of ICC-YES Bank report on sustainable agriculture in India. The report showed that India is required to raise foodgrain production by more than 2 per cent a year to keep pace with the demand. Growth rate required in milk and milk products towards the end of 11th Five Year Plan is 3.18 per cent.

Achieving a four per cent growth in agriculture in the 11th Plan vis-a-vis the present level of two per cent has become critical to avert any crisis in agrarian sector and fulfill the needs of growing economy,the report stated.

The report which examined whether the second green revolution aimed at eastern states as well as the north-eastern states can be materialised if due emphasis is given to dry land agriculture. But the report cautioned against extensive cropping as it could cause harm to soil and water.

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