11 Jan, 2013, New Delhi
The Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) celebrated its foundation Day, here today. On the occasion of TAAS foundation day, the Foundation Day Lecture was delivered by Dr. Shenggen Fan, Director General, IFPRI, Washington on “Ensuring Food and Nutrition Security in Asia: The Role of Agricultural Innovation”.
The lecture was presided over by Dr. S. Ayyappan, Secretary DARE and Director General, ICAR. Dr. R. S. Paroda, Chairman, TAAS introduced the speaker and apprised on the activities of TAAS.
Dr. Shenggen Fan highlighted that Food and nutrition insecurity continues to be an important challenge in Asia. Even though the region is on track to meet the MDG target of reducing poverty by half by 2015, South Asian countries are likely to fall behind. Looking forward, the region will face emerging problems such as population growth and urbanization, demographic changes, increased labor cost, high and volatile food prices, natural resource constraints, and climate change. Strong performing agricultural sector is, therefore, required in Asia in order to solve the complex and interconnected problems of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. In order to achieve this, an innovative development agenda is needed in terms of strategies, investments, technologies, institutions and partnerships.
Dr. Fan addressed the important role that investments in agricultural research and development and the resulting advances in agricultural science and technology play in reducing poverty and food insecurity in Asia. He emphasized that Governments in developing Asian countries must prioritize public spending in agricultural research, education, and rural infrastructure as these hold great promise in reducing poverty and food insecurity in the region.
Dr. Fan further emphasized that investments in agricultural R&D contribute to the advancement of agricultural science and technology that provides smallholder farmers with new agricultural inputs such as biotic and abiotic stress-resistant high-yielding crop varieties that promote the sustainable intensification of crops. Biotech crops have good promise for poor farmers in this respect. However, further research is required to determine the potential benefits and risks of these new technologies. For those that are proven to work for both consumers and producers, regulatory uncertainties and excessive restrictions surrounding biotech crops must be removed in order to widen the technology pipeline and provide both private and public sectors the confidence to invest. In order to ensure the uptake of agricultural innovations by smallholder farmers, future efforts must also have farmers’ needs and preferences as their organizing principle. Strong complimentary public policies and institutions are also necessary for the success of agricultural innovation in Asia.
Earlier, Dr. H. S. Gupta, Director, IARI welcomed the speaker and other participants.
The vote of thanks was presented by Dr. N.N. Singh, Secretary, TAAS.
(Source: anil [dot] cprogmail [dot] com)