Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Amend patent laws to protect farmers: Naidu
HYDERABAD, Dec. 9
THE Union Government should make suitable amendments to the existing patent laws to protect the interest of the farmers, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, said here on Monday.
Mr Naidu felt that the policies at the national level with regard to the farm sector were sometimes lopsided and the import duties on certain agricultural commodities were lowered affecting several farmers.
Addressing the 27th Convention of Indian Agricultural Universities Association (IAUA) here on Monday, Mr Naidu said that there was no guidance for the Indian farmer who was facing many challenges today. There was no accurate data regarding on what crops to produce and which crops were in demand.
He said that though 50 per cent subsidy was given for rice exports, the commodity was still not competitive in the international market. In this context, he asked agricultural scientists to explore cost-effective production methods. He also wanted scientists to focus on areas of agro-processing, value-addition, backward and forward integration and biotechnology.
Stating that more than 14 States were affected by drought this year, Mr Naidu said it was high time the agricultural universities evaluated the cost-effectiveness of drip and sprinkler irrigation.
Delivering the keynote address, Dr Punjab Singh, Director-General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), said that agriculture today was more challenging than it was in the past. Unless a meaningful balance was struck between food production and associated problems such as population growth, loss of farm land and degradation of natural resources, by integrated approaches of production, conservation and consumption, "food and nutrition security many not be within our reach in absolute terms". He said that a crucial aspect that needed to be considered was to question the paradigm of "production at any cost". According to Dr Singh, a policy perspective on issues connected with agricultural development was the need of the hour.
The IAUA President and Vice Chancellor of Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Dr I. V. Subba Rao, said that even though the country enjoyed premier position in the production of several agri-horticultural commodities, the country hardly processes two per cent of the produce compared to 30 per cent of Thailand, 78 per cent of Philippines and 80 per cent of Malaysia.
He said that WTO conditions basically aimed at evolving a system that was transparent and would provide a level playing field. "If its provisions were implemented strictly and sincerely, we would be big gainers," he said. "We should aim for it and our standards for benchmarking quality would have to be aligned with international standards," he said.
Dr Rao said future research efforts should be focussed on rain-fed areas of about 100 million hectares and those bypassed by the Green Revolution. These areas offer greater response for intensive agriculture compared to the irrigated areas.
The Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Minister, Mr V. Sobhanadreeswara Rao, said it was time that agricultural scientists came out with all the facts pertaining to genetically modified crops so as to remove apprehensions about them.
On the occasion of the three-day convention of IAUA, Mr Naidu released a commemorative publication titled " Indian Agriculture - Current Status, Prospects and Challenges". The theme of the convention, being held at ANGRAU, was "Agricultural Education, Research and Extension in the context of WTO".
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