Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Foundation Laid With a Commitment

A Foundation Laid With a Commitment

(The Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA)) 

Scarcity of natural resources has always been a cause of concern in the developing countries. In lieu, the Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA) was established in Ludhiana on October 5, 2011. The institute is a non-profit international research institute dedicated to food, nutrition and livelihood security as well as environmental rehabilitation in South Asia, which is home to more than 300 million undernourished people. BISA is a collaborative effort involving the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). The objective of BISA is to harness the latest technology in agriculture to improve farm productivity and sustainably meet the demands of the future. BISA is not just an institute but a commitment to the people of South Asia, particularly to the farmers, and a concerted effort to catalyze a second Green Revolution. 

It was established with research and development centers in the districts of Ludhiana (Punjab), Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) and Samastipur (Bihar). BISA is an institute built on the legacy of Dr. Norman E Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, the winner of Nobel Peace Prize (1970) and the recipient of the Government of India’s Padma Vibhushan (2006). H S Gupta, Director General is the Chief Executive Authority of the institute. 

Why BISA is needed? 

In 1969, Borlaug predicted that the Green Revolution boost in food production could not last, and was only a reprieve for humanity to develop more sustainable systems and policies to manage its population growth and use of natural resources. Borlaug’s warning came true with the 2008 food crisis and the hungry, surpassing one billion in 2009. 

Although progress has occurred, yet South Asia is slipping into another food and nutrition security quandary. Climate change, land scarcity, shrinking groundwater tables, population growth and increased affluence are testing South Asian farmers and their government. Also, the technologies that enabled the region’s first Green Revolution mainly benefitted high-potential irrigated areas, while farming practices in dry land and rain-fed areas remain largely unchanged. 

The establishment of BISA in India will enable India to harness the best of international science, and also in meeting food security challenges. India would be able to rapidly and effectively absorb the research output of BISA thus benefiting farmers of the country. A major International R&D institution will make India even a bigger centre for agricultural research in the world and this, in turn, may attract further research & development investment in the country. 

The Punjab government hopes that the institute will prove to be a milestone to herald the second green revolution by encouraging the irrigation of crops like maize, oil seeds, and basmati. Hopefully, this will prove to be a boon for the farmers at large.

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