India’s leading experts seek removal of barriers to agribiotech innovation

The renowned agriculture experts gathered at the event organized by the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) advocated strongly for the IPR protection to enable agri-biotechnology innovation and growth in India

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New Delhi: Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS), a trust which aims to harness agricultural science for the welfare of people, on August 04, 2016 organized a half – day seminar around the promotion of biotech innovations in agriculture and intellectual property rights for scaling biotech innovations in agriculture.

The key discussion of the seminar was that agriculture in India has to match up with the growth in other sectors, new innovations will have to be developed and up scaled. In this context, adoption of biotechnology is considered to help increase agricultural production and also enhance farmer’s income.

Speaking on the issue, Dr R S Paroda, Chairman, Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) mentioned, “The national challenge of meeting India’s food security needs while also addressing the challenges of the Indian agriculture is staring us in the face. Will technology-led agriculture succeed in producing more from the less? The emergence of new science like biotechnology, information technology, nanotechnology, bioinformatics etc. provides new hope. In addition to climate smart agriculture and precision agriculture, India needs a conducive policy ecosystem that fosters agri-innovation including GM and non-GM technologies that are supported by the right policies and development related activities.”

The aim of the session was to prompt a meaningful dialogue among the policy makers and other key stakeholders on promoting biotech innovations in agriculture and other related issues and emerge with relevant and worthy recommendations. 

Addressing the audience at the session, Dr R R Hanchinal, Chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer Right Activists said“India`s scenario is such that agriculture and biotech cannot be ignored. Keeping the slogan of “Creative India” and “Innovative India”, the GOI released National IPR policy in agriculture on 12th May 2016. This policy will boast our agriculture innovations in the country. To policies are needed to review existing laws and also remove the inconsistencies so that problem are solved. It is important that policies are in- line with International treaties and they do not hinder the interest of the farmers”.

Speakers at the conference highlighted the relevance of agri-biotechnology as a pre-requisite for enabling an ‘ever-green revolution’,through the selective development of GM crops that are relevant to India’s farmers and can accelerate the agri-economy. GM Crops have the potential to increase crop yields while simultaneously having the potential to mitigate climate change and bring down the overall cost of farming, thereby helping the farmer and helping the nation. The challenge to foster greater adoption of this technology is linked to creating a mission mode approach; strengthening of the public research system; enhancement of private sector investments on GM technologies; and finally enabling a wider public debate keeping the farming community at its epicenter.

The event included a stellar line-up of speakers that included policy makers, scientists, academicians and others from across India’s biotechnology ecosystem such as Dr  T Mohapatra, Secretary, DARE & DG, ICAR, Dr R R Hanchinal, Chairperson, PPV&FRA, Dr R B Singh, Ex-President, NAAS, Dr Usha Rao, Assistant Controller, Controller of Patent and Design, Dr S R Rao, Adviser, Department of Biotechnology, Dr Deepak Pental, Former Vice Chancellor, Delhi University, Dr Suresh Pal, Member CACP, Dr Paresh Verma, Head of ABLE-AG Management Committee, Dr C D Mayee, Former Chairman, ASRB, Dr M Prabhakar Rao, President, NSAI, Dr Neeti Wilson, Anand and Anand, Dr Anupam Varma, Adjunct Prof & INSA Scientist, IARI and Dr J S Chauhan, ADG (Seeds), ICAR.

By 2030, India would need to produce 70 per cent more food grains than what it is producing today, that too from declining natural resources. Thus, producing more from less is an enormous challenge while facing second generation problems of green revolution and climate change. These are: ‘factor productivity decline, poor soil health, loss of soil organic carbon, ground and surface water pollution, water related stress, increased incidence of pests and diseases, increased cost of inputs, decline in farm profits and an adverse impact of climate change’.

Today, increasing productivity and farmers’ income are two big challenges as size of the land holdings get decreased. Other critical areas are lack of knowledge and infrastructure in rural areas. Problems related to infrastructure for irrigation, power, markets and roads affect adversely the farm operations. Unlike other business enterprises, agriculture is prone to more risks on account of factors that are beyond farmer’s control.