`India can be agricultural superpower`

India can become an agricultural superpower and the proposed food security bill is coming at the right time as it has the potential to prevent a backlash from people, says the chief of India`s largest farming cooperatives.

Updated: May 03, 2010, 11:48 AM IST

New Delhi: India can become an agricultural superpower and the proposed food security bill is coming at the right time as it has the potential to prevent a backlash from people, says the chief of one of India`s largest farming cooperatives.

"Unless the government can provide food security to its people, there will be a terrific backlash," asserted CV Ananda Bose, managing director of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited.

"Food riots have even thrown away governments in some countries. But India fortunately doesn`t have a food crisis," Bose told reporters in an interview.

According to him, India had thought about food security "at the right time" and the bill in this regard was a "proactive step" initiated by the government. A group of ministers is discussing the final points of the food security bill.

Bose, a 1977 batch official from the Indian Administrative Service, said India can also become an agriculture super power if it taps the farming potential to the optimum.

"We have all resources to increase agriculture production and productivity. We only have to tap the infinite potentials of our country particularly eastern India," he said and added that his organisation had many roles to play to ensure food security in the country.

"Food security means providing sufficient, safe and nutritious food to the poor and the marginalised people to meet their dietary needs. We have many roles to play to ensure food security in the country," the civil service official said.

NAFED was established in 1958 to promote cooperative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit the farmers. Agricultural farmers are the main members of NAFED.

In a bid to give a boost to the government`s effort to bring food security, NAFED has already taken certain steps, he said.

"We have sought the help of nanoscience and nanotechnology experts like P. Somasundaran who can help India ensure food security by increasing crop yields and reducing consumption."

Somasundaran, who teaches at Columbia University in the US, visited India last month and expressed his willingness to chair a task force being set up by NAFED on use of science and nanotechnology to boost agricultural production and prevent damage to food grain.

Referring to NAFED`s decision to distribute high-yielding seeds developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to farmers, he said "high yielding will stop the decline in agricultural production and can ensure food security".
BARC, under its nuclear agriculture and biotechnology division, developed 38 new seeds by combining mutation and recombination breeding techniques.

These include 20 oil seeds (groundnut-14, mustard-3, soybean-2 and sunflower-1,) 15 pulses (green gram or moong-7, black gram-4, pigeon pea or tur-4) and one each cowpea (chowli), rice and jute seeds.
Bose also conceived and implemented an easy markets scheme, `farm gate to homegate` in Delhi, Chennai and Kochi as a price control intervention, when the prices of the essential commodities sky rocketed a few months ago.

NAFED plans to extend this initiative to other states, gradually. "Under the `farm gate to home gate` scheme, NAFED procures essential commodities from farmers directly and sell them to people, eliminating intermediaries who make the process expensive."

IANS