Exclusive Q&A With : Trilochan Mohapatra, Director-General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)
Updated on: 30 Jun 2016
Trilochan Mohapatra has taken over as the Director-General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the central agency that takes care of research in a variety of crops. In Hyderabad last week to attend a Regional Committee meeting of the Council, Mohapatra spoke about the importance of allowing GM research in food crops with necessary safeguards. With weathermen forecasting normal rainfall, he said States should make submergence-tolerant paddy varieties available. Excerpts:
How has the kharif season been progressing? And, what are your expectations?
As weathermen predict a good monsoon, we expect a good kharif this year. Good rainfall also means that some areas might get more rainfall. The States must be ready with submergence-tolerant paddy varieties. A large number of varieties can survive up to 15 days of submergence. Varieties such as Swarna Sub-1 can be handy for areas that witness flash floods and water logging.
A huge chunk of cotton is being grown in rain-fed areas despite advisories against this. What's your advice to farmers and States on this issue?
Yes, we ask them not to grow cotton in such areas. Productivity is low under such conditions. They invest more on inputs such as seeds. Given this scenario, cotton should not be grown in places where you don't have water. You need to reduce exposure to cotton. But this year, because of predictions of good rains, cotton can be grown.
The row over GM mustard points at the deep-rooted concerns on transgenic crops…
Yes, there are concerns, particularly in (GM) food crops. This needs to be addressed. We need to strengthen public awareness. Some of these apprehensions are not based on facts. Some of them could be based on hearsay and this needs to be discussed. If you don't explain properly, apprehensions remain.
(While allowing trials in food crops,) we must adequately test. Before we take it to the consumption stage, we must address all bio-safety issues and ensure it is safe as we did with Bt cotton. Unless we do this, we should not release them for consumption.
Pink bollworm has developed resistance to Bt technology. How does the ICAR view this situation?