New Delhi, Jan 18 : Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh on Tuesday called for collaboration between India, and UK on issues of mutual concern like achieving the goals of food security and zero hunger, saying the global pattern of food production and distribution may need to shift significantly as climate change progresses.
He said the South Asian region is facing the shrinking arable land, quoting 2018 World Bank data, in which the region reported just 43.18 per cent land capable of growing crops and continuously showing a declining trend since the early 1970s.
Addressing the joint India-UK meet on "Sustaining Food Production under Environmental Stress", the minister pointed out that 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.
Jitendra Singh called for joint funding to develop a coherent and stakeholder-relevant R&D programme that will address this challenge.
The Minister said Covid demonstrated that science is the only major key tool to find solutions and to give solutions for tough times to be faced by mankind.
He pointed out that Indian science has proved the capability to produce vaccines for such a high risk/ devastating disease in a very limited time and at the same time added that we should not restrict our ideas to Indian perspectives, rather there should have a global horizon.
Jitendra Singh noted with satisfaction that this workshop is meant to bring the scientists across the two countries including 22 outstanding experts in the theme areas from both UK and India, that is, 20 young investigators from both the countries working on a range of important crops in relation to climate change.
The Minister said India and UK must invite global collaborations in various dimensions of science like agriculture, medicine, food, pharma, engineering, or defence.
The Workshop is being organised jointly by the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Mohali, an institute under the Department of Biotechnology, and the University of Birmingham, UK, and supported by Newton Bhabha Fund and British Council.
The Minister suggested evolving important key areas in agriculture, food, and nutrition to be taken by the two countries for joint research plans.
"We know that NABI was established a decade back with the primary focus of improving the nutritional quality of foods that reaches to our people across the country. NABI is a premier institute that works at the interface of Agri-Food and Nutrition Biotechnology. The institute could provide an impetus to the nation's need for addressing nutritional security even under the climatic changes happening around the world," he said.