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Rediff.com  » News » Why Bush will meet Indian farmers

Why Bush will meet Indian farmers

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February 24, 2006 19:27 IST

A few farmers in Andhra Pradesh are waiting to meet the President of the United States.

Surprised? Don't be, because the main reason why Hyderabad is the only destination outside New Delhi on American President George W Bush's itinerary during his three-day India visit beginning March 1 is the growing agricultural cooperation between India and America.

But just how is Hyderabad related to the India-US agricultural ties?

State government officials say the reason is that some of the best modern cultivation methods are being implemented across Andhra Pradesh.

And the farmers who will meet Bush have successfully implemented new farming technology in their fields.

"President Bush will get a glimpse of rural India during his visit to Hyderabad," said a senior officer coordinating the visit. "We are arranging a group of progressive farmers and agricultural scientists to interact with him."

The venue for Bush's agricultural visit is the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University at Rajendranagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

Bush arrives in the city at 10.30 am on March 3. He will then fly to the university campus by helicopter and spend time with farmers, scientists and officials.

The university's scientists are getting ready to show Bush their research on latest cultivation technologies, seed technology/development, plant protection and pest control, water management and organic manure.

Farmers who have increased crop productivity by adopting technologies and cultivation practices evolved by the university will share their experiences with President Bush.

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    Agriculture department officials will explain to the US President about three unique initiatives underway in Andhra Pradesh:

    • Rythu Chaitanya Yatra: Farmers' awareness road shows to propagate the benefits of vermin compost, precautions to be taken in the usage of pesticides, the importance of inter-cropping and water-saving practices.
    • Polam Badi: A farmers' school for integrated crop management that helps a substantial increase in net returns by reducing the cost of cultivation.
    • Seed Village Programme: For production of quality seeds.

    The university's scientists will also brief Bush on the SRI (Systems Rice Intensification) method of cultivation developed by their university, which boosts yield by 37 per cent and reduces water requirement by 35 per cent.

    The agriculture department launched the initiative to popularise SRI paddy cultivation during the current crop year by organising 14,400 demonstrations during kharif and rabi seasons at a cost of Rs 25 million (a little less than $0.5 million).

    The scientists will also explain to Bush about the university's research in biotechnology and genetic engineering.

    Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy is also keen to have a one-to-one interaction with Bush to discuss agriculture.

    The chief minister feels developing countries should emulate technologies adopted by the Americans to increase farm production.

    The US accounts for 30 per cent of global food production with only 4.6 per cent of the world's population. Only 4 percent of the US population is engaged in farming.

    Bush's meeting with agricultural scientists and farmers in Hyderabad comes in the backdrop of the US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture that was formulated during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's US visit in July last year.

    The goal of the Initiative is to re-energise the agricultural relationship between the two nations through collaborative efforts in agricultural research, education and commercial linkages.

    As per the plan, a joint a board made up of eight members from academia, the government, and the private sector in both countries to recommend specific projects and funding sources has been formed.

    American Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator Ellen Terpstra co-chairs the board with Indian Council for Agricultural Research chief Mangala Rai.

    Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug and renowned agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan are the honorary advisers to the US and Indian wings of the board, respectively.

    Areas of collaboration are expected to include agricultural research on sustainable agriculture and marketing systems, the use of new information and communication technologies, implementation of international food safety and sanitary requirements, and other priority areas as determined by the board.

    As per the agricultural initiative, both the US and India -- being leaders in different fields of science and technology -- will complement each others' capabilities through strategic alliance in key areas which are currently being finalised.

George Iype and Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad
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