All India Radio – First International Agrobiodiversity Congress

  • IASbaba
  • January 14, 2017
  • 8
All India Radio
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First International Agrobiodiversity Congress


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General Studies 3

  • Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


The 1st International Agrobiodiversity Congress – IAC 2016 – saw delegates from 60 countries in New Delhi to initiate and encourage a dialogue among relevant stakeholders – including farmers – to better understand everyone’s role in agrobiodiversity management and the conservation of genetic resources.

India is one of the most diverse countries in the world as though it takes up only 2.4% of the world’s land area, yet it harbours 7-8% of all recorded species, including over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals (CBD, 2014).

Agricultural Biodiversity

Or Agrobiodiversity is the foundation of sustainable agricultural development and is an essential natural resource to ensure current and future food and nutrition security.

As the world faces challenges such as global malnutrition, climate change, increasing agricultural productivity, reducing risk and increasing shrinking food security, there is a need for the conservation and use of precious resources as they provide essential raw materials for agricultural systems and peoples’ livelihoods.

Significance of conference

Earlier also there used to be such kind of conference but this time the Government of India is trying to promote ecological and sustainable agriculture to improve the farmers’ income.

It is important because there is immense prevalence of mono-cropping and loss of diversity in several places, particularly in wake of green revolution in India, which is harming the agricultural biodiversity.

Now the government is trying to revive the polyculture, organic farming and also protect the biodiversity. This conference will go long way as ecological and biodiversity balance is very important.

  1. Risk reduction: here should be mixed farming and diversified agriculture so that risk of monocrop farming is reduced. If there is loss of one crop, other crops will support.
  2. Better livelihood: Mono-cropping cannot ensure enough income or access to good livelihood or food security. Mixed farming is best guarantee for it.

There is need to show more inclination towards promotion of blue revolution as fish production has increased in last few years, but now the growth rate has become slow. India has tremendous potential in marine as well as inland fisheries. So for both, there exists potential in places where there is good rainfall. Even if it is a small pond, it can become a good source of income. Keeping such prospective in mind, GOI has emphasised in MGNERGA too that there should be new ponds and tanks created. They emerge not only as a source of irrigation but also fish culture. Also, it has been emphasising on how to increase demand in fisheries through innovations, value additions and marketing.

Change of focus

The modern agriculture weakness lies in the fact that there was too much focus on green revolution. But now, serious issue exists with it as there is excessive use of chemical fertiliser, pesticides which erodes soil health, sustainably of agriculture thereby affecting food safety. Hence, more than required emphasis on green revolution has created some kind of imbalance over agro-economy and social issues.

In overall scenario, the food grain production was the focus, particularly the cereals- rice and wheat were the focus of green revolution. But that way, India was heading towards some kind of mono-cropping. The total contribution of food grains in the total value of output for agriculture commodities is only 20-25% despite the fact that more than 50% of the area is under food grains. If 22 million hectares is there, it should contribute quiet significantly, means more than 25% of the total output. But it majority comes from fruits and vegetables. So, only cereals have not to be grown, but fruits and vegetables have to be also encouraged. Now the government is thinking of diversifying in favour of pulses. This will create a diversified agricultural basket, bringing in sustainability in agro-economy.

In addition, there should be encouragement to poultry and animal husbandry. Today it contributes about 28-29% of total agricultural output. When compared, inspite of so much area under food grains production, it contributes only 25%. But with just 4-5% land under fodder, there is 28% of the total output. Thus, there can be efforts made to harness that potential for the benefit of farmers and country.

Diversification of agriculture– there is no MSP for any crop except 24 commodities which includes rice, wheat, maize, jowar, bajra. But it is effectively implemented only for rice and wheat. Now the present government is giving lot of emphasis on pulses by encouraging farmers to grow it, fixing higher MSP, procuring them through centralised distribution through retail outlet, cooperatives or PDS. Such a change in focus areas will augment more diversification in agriculture.

Knowledge sharing

Such conferences also open up avenues for discussion and knowledge sharing as there is interaction with experts from various countries.

Knowledge is critical input in any system, particularly for technological innovation, higher productivity or higher yield. Many things are happening globally. So, global technology can be shared and then it can be adapted to the local suitable conditions. It helps in improving productivity and income and reducing cost. If cost of production is low, then with lower of investment surplus, the profit can be significant.

It can also contribute in enhancing farmer’s knowledge about soil conservation and irrigation process. Drip and sprinkler irrigation was learnt from Israel which used it for their fruits and vegetables. Sustainable agriculture or sustainable livelihood for the small and marginal farmers depends on key knowledge and inputs.

Traditional wisdom of farming should be integrated with modern science for sustainable results. Traditionally Indian farmers were growing mixed crops. That is how farmers reduced their risks, increased income and with low cost of production, they had good livelihood.

Currently, after green revolution, Indian agriculture is moving towards mono-cropping and monoculture and it has created lot of problems in terms of soil erosion and water depletion.

Now again there is awareness and emphasis from central government on mixed farming, organic farming, integrated pest management and wide reach of soil health card. All these initiatives give out a message that the government is now up for ecological farming and protection of biodiversity. This will lead to minimisation of farmer’s risk in agriculture, improved income, maintenance of soil health and be environment friendly.

Contribution of states

The role of states is equally important when dealing with agriculture as it is part of state list. But whenever it comes to farmer’s welfare, the debate in media and other circle is basically focussed on role of central government and MSP. Here, both central and state government have important role to play. Central government is focussing on critical schemes which will have impact on farmers’ income and sustainability of agriculture. For ex agriculture insurance- it is a central scheme where some percentage of premium is borne by the state. But in some cases it is found that states are not coming forward. Thus, if state governments are really serious about improving the condition of farmer, they must relook their policies and undertake initiatives in improving farmers’ welfare.


More awareness can be created by dedicating years to farming. UN declared 2014 as Year of Family Farming. Here focus was that small farms and use of family labour can improve their food security and livelihood and go for sustainable agriculture. That created lot of awareness globally.

Government of India’s priorities are very clear in terms of agrobiodiversity, organic farming, improving soil health, farmers’ income etc. Thus there is a hope for a better agricultural growth.

Connecting the dots:

  • What is agrobiodiversity? How can India sustain its agriculture diversity and agricultural growth with agrobiodiversity-Evaluate.


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