Scientists must help battle hunger: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asked scientists to find solutions for hunger and malnutrition while conserving the bio-diversity.

“Today, millions of people are struggling with hunger, poverty and malnutrition. Science and technology has an important role in fighting these challenges,” Modi said at the first International Agrobiodiversity Congress (IAC) here.

“We need to ensure that while finding solutions for these challenges, we don’t ignore other aspects like sustainable development and conservation of bio-diversity,” he said.

Ruing the loss of global bio-diversity, Modi said that in spite of the acceptance of the Biological Diversity Convention, 1992, everyday, around 50 to 150 species are getting extinct, and in coming years, there is danger of loosing every eighth bird and every fourth animal species.

He asked the international, national and private organisations to form a pool of resources and technology to increase chances of success and also to make efforts to formulate a shared vision in this direction.

Citing the rich bio-diversity of India, he said it was a very geo-diverse nation and its varied topography and different climatic zones were the reasons.

India has 2.5 per cent of earth’s land mass but it sustains 17 per cent human population, 18 per cent of animal population six and half per cent of global bio-diversity.

Highlighting the awareness about nature conservation in Indian civilisational milieu, Modi said the concept of consciousness of nature is part of the Ishvapyasopnishad, an ancient philosophical text.

Modi however noted that for conservation of bio-diversity, it is important to be ready for the local environmental challenges. “We will have to test genes in the farms under environmental conditions so that they can adapt to the climatic conditions,” he said.

He also called for harmonisation of laws on agrobiodiversity, so that they do not become hindrance in the growth of farmers and agriculture in developing countries.

Calling for farmers to be come part of the research work, he suggested a mechanism where a farmer can test a desirable gene in his farms and should be compensated for it.

Recommending practice of maintaining a register of various practices from across the globe in the field of agrobiodiversity, he said that subsequently a scientific study could be carried to see which practices can be promoted.

The Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources (ISPGR) and Bioversity International are organising the November 6-9 event in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.