Focusing on achieving the goals of food security and zero hunger Union Minister, Dr. Jitendra Singh on Tuesday addressed the joint India-UK meet on “Sustaining Food Production under Environmental Stress”, in a virtual mode and called for collaboration between both nations on issues of mutual concern.
Dr. Jitendra Singh stated that India and the United Kingdom must invite global collaborations in various fields of science such as agriculture, medicine, food, pharmaceuticals, engineering, and defence. The Workshop is co-organized by the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Mohali, an institute under the Department of Biotechnology of the Government of India, and the University of Birmingham, UK, and supported by Newton Bhabha Fund and British Council.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dr. Jitendra Singh said, that the Indian government’s goal has been to enable farmers to feed India and the rest of the world. ‘’ India’s efforts to safeguard the Food Security needs of every citizen in the country have been unprecedented as PM Modi ensured that no person goes hungry during the pandemic time. Moreover, policies have been framed to protect the interests of small and marginal farmers, and conserve local food cultures which in turn will significantly contribute to food security,’’ the Minister added.
According to Dr. Jitendra Singh, India-UK joint collaboration may include programmes such as student exchange, basic research, technology development, product development, and product/process demonstration and implementation.
South Asian region facing the shrinking arable land:
Dwelling on the issue of Sustainable Food Production, the minister said, the South Asian region is facing shrinking arable land, besides the problem of global climate change that needs to be addressed. Quoting World Bank data, he further pointed out that the Arable land in South Asia was reported at 43.18 % in 2018 which has been stagnant since the early 1970s and recently declining. ‘’Growth in yields and more intensive use of land will account for all of the growth in crop production and will also compensate for losses in the arable land area,’’ he said.
Noticing that the global pattern of food production and distribution may need to shift significantly as climate change progresses, Dr. Jitendra Singh called for joint funding to develop a coherent and stakeholder-relevant R&D program to address this challenge. He highlighted that the initiative by the British Council to support such interactive meet among the researchers with a common goal will seek attention from the stakeholders and nurture the young investigators to provide them with an excellent platform to share and rear the ideas.
National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) is the first Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute, established a decade back with the primary focus of improving the nutritional quality of foods that reaches across the country. The institute aims at catalyzing the transformation of the Agri-food sector in India. NABI’s primary research focus is to harness biotechnological tools in the fields of Agriculture Biotechnology, Food, and Nutritional Biotechnology in order to provide sustainable and novel solutions for quality food and nutrition. The institute could provide an impetus to the nation’s need for addressing nutritional security even under the climatic changes happening around the world.