‘Informed farmers vital to food security’

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

AGARTALA - To achieve food security, scientific research-oriented farming, propagation of latest global information among the farmers and suitable policy research are very vital, experts and scientists said here Tuesday.

“It is extremely crucial to evaluate the potential of genetically-modified (GM) crops as these are nutrient-enriched, drought-resistant and disease-resistant varieties,” said Washington based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Director Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere.

While addressing an international conference on “Agriculture education and knowledge management” organised by IGNOU and IFPRI, Asenso-Okyere said: “On Bt Brinjal issue, everybody should be guided by science, not by sentiments or emotions.”

The IFPRI chief said that the debate on Bt Brinjal is “not full-fledged and mature”. “We should take all scientific facts before going into the debate on the issue.”

“Evidence on the potential benefits and risks is needed by all stakeholders, including NGOs, governments, scientists, and more importantly, consumers and producers. Ultimately, regulatory bodies should ensure that the products are safe to humans, animals and the environment,” Asenso-Okyere said.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar inaugurated the conference being attended by over 120 agricultural scientists, experts, delegates from India and abroad, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, the US and Nairobi.

The conference is expected to go a long way in evolving integrated strategies to achieve food security and sustainable development in India, specially in the northeast region.

The IFPRI director said that most people do not know what is good food and what is good for health. “Malnutrition is a critical part of human life. Breast milk is the best nutrient food for children.”

IGNOU’s School of Agriculture (SOA) senior professor B.S. Hansra said: “The IGNOU is the largest Open Distance Learning (ODL) institution in the world. It (IGNOU) is spreading the latest global information on farming and agriculture to farmers in remote places in India.”

He said: “The focus of the conference is to share experiences on the challenges faced by the agriculture educational system in managing indigenous knowledge as well as knowledge generated by research and educational institutes for innovative agriculture.”

According to Hansra, three million students study in IGNOU and they will take the latest information to farmers across the country.

The main objectives of the conference are: to discuss various approaches and models of agricultural education for strengthening capacity of professionals, researchers and educators, discuss the role of effective knowledge management systems for socio-economic development of agricultural sector.

It is also to identify suitable pedagogic approaches and curriculum to educate farmers, upgrade their technical and entrepreneurial knowledge and analytical skills and to develop knowledge management strategies through cost-effective and efficient approaches, public-private-NGO partnerships, business models and delivery mechanisms.

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