Agony and Ecstasy on the Farm Front: Prof M S Swaminathan

Chennai, April 26, 2016: Ours is an ecologically diverse country with a wide variety of crops and farming systems. Naturally, there will be joy in some parts of the country if the monsoon and the market are favourable. Today, there are parts of the country like Marathwada and Bundelkhand which are suffering from both drought and heat. Parts of Assam have started experiencing floods. Our monsoon management strategy should therefore consist of the following steps: First, in flood prone areas like Assam, there is need for cultivating rice varieties which can rise above the water level. Such varieties with elongation genes are available now. Secondly, steps should be taken to convert the non-flood prone season as a major farming season. During October to April there are usually no floods in the Brahmaputra and Barak Valleys. Third, in drought prone areas, steps should be taken to take advantage of the prediction that the Southwest monsoon may be normal. In any case drought tolerant millets and pulses should be preferred to heavy water requiring crops like sugarcane and rice. By making the necessary adjustments in cropping seasons and systems we can eliminate to some extent the prevailing agony. A science based approach to the management of disasters is urgently called for, so as to convert agony into ecstasy.