Chennai, December 14, 2018: There is general agreement among all nations that the idea of sea level rise is no longer a theoretical possibility but is a practical danger. All nations which supported the Paris pact should now prepare themselves for anticipatory action to meet the challenge of sea level rise and the consequent problems of climate refugees. In this context, the anticipatory programme started by MSSRF in 1990 needs to be strengthened and the results obtained so far should be utilized at the field level through national, regional and global network. Among the results the most important are
- Genetic strains developed through transfer of genes for salt tolerance from mangrove species; seeds of good rice varieties like ponni containing genes for salinity tolerance are now available for field testing in places like Sundarbans.
- Promotion of below sea level farming as the one practiced in Kuttanad in Kerala. Kuttanad has been recognized by FAO as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Site (GIAHS).
- Restructuring coastal system management using approaches like the introduction of nutritional factors, so that Farming Systems for Nutrition (FSN) can be popularized.
- Conservation of genetic resources through measures like the establishment of genetic gardens of halophytes for salinity tolerance. MSSRF has already established a Genetic Garden at Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu for this purpose.
Above all, there has to be serious effort in spreading knowledge on methods of applying agricultural remedies to the potential ecological maladies in coastal areas. Sea water constitutes 97% of the world’s water resource and the application of sea water farming also helps in strengthening water security. In short, the MSSRF package for the management of problems arising from rising sea water should be widely promoted through national, regional and global network. Sea water farming for coastal area prosperity will then become one of the powerful instruments for achieving the goals set up by COP24. Agri-aquafarms involving attention to the gender dimension of farming will be an effective method of minimizing damage to human safety and security. It has been an act of vision for MSSRF to have initiated such anticipatory research and development programme.