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'What we need is Evergreen Revolution'

By Shobha Warrier
March 16, 2006 18:56 IST
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Dr M S Swaminathan, along with Nobel Laureate Normal Borlaug, is an honorary advisor to the US-India joint knowledge initiative in agriculture started last year when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met US President George Bush in America. American Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator Ellen Terpstra co-chairs the board, and the Indian counterpart is Mangala Rai, chief of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research.

On the eve of the announcement by George W Bush to offer $100 million to the knowledge initiative in agriculture, Swaminathan, the man behind India's Green Revolution, speaks exclusively to's Shobha Warrier.

You and Normal Borlaug are honorary advisors for the US-India joint knowledge initiative on agriculture. What are the plans of this initiative for both countries?

When Manmohan Singh went to the US last year, the PM and the President agreed to renew and revitalise the bonds of scientific collaboration in agriculture. In a joint communiqué, they announced that India and the US would have a joint knowledge initiative in agriculture.

Agriculture is becoming more knowledge intensive, not chemical intensive, and that is what we want for our small farmers too. In a sample survey, more than 40 per cent of our farmers said they wanted to quit farming. If this is true with older farmers, the younger farmers won't stay in the farms at all. That is what is happening already. Even graduates in agriculture do not go back to farming; they like to take up jobs in banks or elsewhere. So, how do we attract and retain the youth in farming? Only if it can become intellectually satisfying and economically rewarding. This means you have to bring down the cost of cultivation and improve prod