IRRI joins mission against global hunger and starvation
Varanasi: In a bid to combat the hunger and starvation globally, Department of Genetics & Plant breeding, Institute of Agricultural Sciences (BHU), IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) and National Seed Research & Training Centre (Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India) have come together to develop climate resistant varieties of rice.
A two-day conference on 'Novel applications of Biotechnology in Agricultural Sectors: Towards Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2018' was held in Varanasi at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) campus and was joined by representatives of the various mentioned departments and organisations.
The conference marked the presence of 400 delegates, biotechnologists, agricultural scientists, plant breeders, policy makers, representatives from research organisations and students from 22 states of India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Prof. AVaishampayan, Director for Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Dr Bandana Bose, Dean & Head of Department of Genetics & Plant Breeding, BHU welcomed delegates, exalting BHU’s prowess in bringing forth new varieties of cereals, pulses, oilseeds, working with ICAR and international partner institutes like IRRI, CIMMYT, IFPRI etc.
Chief Guest, Mr Ashish Bahuguna, Chairperson for Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India) said, "With food security, nutrition security needs concerted efforts, given the context wherein India still suffers from poor performance in nutrition in South Asia. Due focus is needed on cereal as well as non-cereal crops and on enhancing attributes other than yield, which institutes like IRRI are already doing, coming forth with climate resistant varieties of rice. This necessitates partnerships between research institutes, government and private sector."
Highlighting the auspicious start to the partnership of IRRI, BHU, NSRTC and like-minded institutes, Dr Nafees Meah, IRRI Representative for South Asia said, "South Asia has multiple challenges for achieving SDGs and ending hunger. Globally about 30% of children under 5 years of age are stunted due to lack of food and nutrition. Agriculture meanwhile is under multiple stresses of population growth, climate change, water scarcity etc. We need to partner together better to find solutions and return value to farmers. The IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) is a Centre of Excellence that will work with key partners to make Varanasi a modern scientific centre, to build a resilient rice agri-food system for all."
Elaborating further, Dr US Singh, Director, ISARC congratulated partners for hosting the conference at a time preceding a second green revolution, given the impact of biotechnological innovations in agriculture. He said, "ISARC, will be a centre of research excellence, with state-of-the-art facilities for rice breeding and value addition, replete with modern facilities to ensure grain quality, research, education and training, soil testing, seed technology, and Geo-Spatial Information, promoting South-South collaboration for food safety and security in South Asia and Africa."
Conference sessions focused on biotechnology and genetic engineering innovations for cultivating rice, wheat, maize, vegetables, oil seeds, etc. innovative on-farm technologies, varietal selection and adoption; biodiversity, Intellectual Property Rights issues, soil management, seed systems, mechanisation and linking to markets, to help agriculture meet biotic and abiotic stresses, while enabling higher yields.
In the concluding ceremony, Professor PK Singh, Organising Secretary (Dept. of Genetics & Plant Breeding, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, BHU) thanked the eminent scientists, partners, policy-makers, academicians and students for participating and hopes the conference outcomes prove instrumental in ushering a new era of agriculture with biotechnological innovations, for the welfare of farmers.