Sirsa, Haryana 11 November 2014 :: Gurjeet Singh Mann a farmer from Sirsa, Haryana participated in recently held ‘2014 Global Farmers Roundtable’ in Des Moines, IOWA USA. He was one of the 16 farmers invited from all over the world to participate in this round table; another farmer from Hyderabad- Sh Jayapal Reddy was also participant in this Roundtable.
The Round Table was followed by prestigious World Food Prize (WFP) Symposium and prestigious WPF Laureate Gala Celebrations held at the IOWA State Capitol House. This year the Laureate was awarded to Dr Sanjay Rajaram, renowned agriculture scientist of India-Mexico. The participants of 2014 Global Farmers Roundtable were also invited to witness the grand ceremony. The Ceremony was attended by several past Laureates including Dr M.S. Swaminathan, (better known in India as author of Swaminathan Report) Dr Gurdev Khush of India, the Governor of IOWA State conferred the Laureate to Dr Sanjay Rajaram for his outstanding work in the field of wheat and cereal research. Deputy Ambassador of India to USA – Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu was also a guest at the ceremony.
The Global Farmer Roundtable features a facilitated dialogue among global farmers to better understand and address the challenges of filling an increasing food and nutritional security gap. Through dialogue and time spent together they discover commonalities, share their challenges, discuss tools, technologies and strategies that can be adopted to meet these challenges, and are empowered to meet the demands of closing the food gap through shared work, message and mission. The interactive 2 day Farmers Roundtable session was moderated by Dr Nicholas of University of Missouri where farmers discussed the problems faced by them in farming in their countries.
Gurjeet Singh Mann was also panelist in the Crop Life International seminar with the theme- ‘Drought and disease tolerance for food security’. The seminar was moderated by Julie Borlaug, Grand Daughter of father of Green Revolution Dr Norman Borlaug.
Dr Indu Sharma Project Director-Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR), Karnal was another Indian speaker from India at Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium.
THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN HUMAN HISTORY: Can we sustainably feed the 9 billion people on our planet by the year 2050? The main crux of all these events was for preparedness for ever growing world population, the target in How to Feed 9.1 Billion in 2050. Though world agri-food production and farmers are doing well to feed the hunger as of today, but this growth rate of food production is just not adequate to meet the challenge of 2050, it was widely agreed upon in several sessions that there is a need to increase the production by 70% worldwide and up to 100% from the present level in Developing Nations.
Speaking at the seminar Gurjeet Singh Mann said that Indian farmers are doing their best for food production, India which was a wheat and cereal importing nation in 60’s is now a wheat surplus nation, but rising input costs, increase in diseases, biotic and abiotic stresses and stagnating market prices are discouraging to the farmers. Today most farmers in India cannot buy and are not interested in buying costly machinery for farm operations due to shrinking land holdings; the main interest of farmers has lately shifted to Seed Technology. Earlier Farmers looked up for costly machinery as boost to agriculture, but now farmers are looking forward to seed technology. The reason is that seed technology is easiest to adopt and easy to abandon as well if it does not work in their favor. Indian farmers want free flow and transfer of seed technology to them as and when these are available anywhere in the world, just like other technological innovations, software, gadgets, medicine etc comes to India as soon as it is available in other parts of the world. One of the grudges of Indian farmers is that Biotechnology driven GM Seeds which is a proven technology in advanced countries like USA is not allowed in India under the pressure of anti science lobbies that misguide policy makers in central Government. The only GM seed yet allowed in India is Bt Cotton, while in USA farmers and consumers are taking advantage GM Corn, GM Mustard, GM Canola and several such edible crops since past many years, the same are being denied or delayed to Indian farmers. The plea of Indian Govt is that edible GM Crops need further testing, while the fact is that Bt Cotton Seed in India is being used in edible oils without any issues since year 2003, Mann commented. It may be mentioned here that of all the cotton produced in India today, 95% cotton is Bt Cotton.
About future challenges for wheat production, Gurjeet Singh Mann spoke about climate changes affecting the crops and asked the scientists to develop wheat varieties for India that are drought and heat tolerant, are resistant to diseases such as rusts, if possible their yield may be double from what present day varieties are giving us. As in the Indian scenario it is not possible to see a big hike in the MSP (Minimum Support Price) of wheat, while the input costs are rising every day, so the only answer to sustainable wheat farming is increase in yield.
The farmers also visited Couser Cattle Farms in Nevada IOWA, where farmer couple – Bill and Nancy Couser hosted a lavish Lunch and also narrated their success story supported with a multimedia presentation. Farmers also visited Kemin Industries – a worldwide company which was setup up by a sheep farmer, the farmers could also see Large Scale farming of GM Corn and GM Soyabean Crops ready for harvesting in the country side of IOWA State.
One event was also held at aesthetic and built grand – World Food Prize Hall-of-Laureates in Des Moines, IOWA. This has been built as a special tribute to Nobel Peace Prize winner and World Food Prize founder Dr. Norman Borlaug. [Des Moines is capital of IOWA State]
Apart from Dr Sanjaya Rajaram, the two Indian farmers also had a chance to meet and interact with dignitaries of Indian Origin: Dr M.S. Swaminathan a past WPF Laureate and better known in India for Swaminathan Report : National Commission on Farmers, Dr Gurdev Khush former WPF Laureate, Dr Indu Sharma, project director- Dierctorate of Wheat Research (DWR) Karnal, Mr TS Sandhu, Deputy Ambassador of India to USA, Dr Malhotra and also with other international dignitaries.
An edition of National Geographic Magazine – The Future of Food – special series was also distributed at the Symposium.
2014 Global Farmer Roundtable Attendees
* Argentina Mr. Martin Pasman cereal and oilseed producer, potatoesboth fresh and processed, cattle, dairy and an irrigation equipment
dealer. He has been a high value spokesman for the special economic challenges faced by Argentinian farmers.
* Australia Ms. Kelly Pearce dryland broad acre cropping on 6000 acres in W. Australia; GM and nonGM canola, wheat, barley, oaten hay,
3000 breeding ewes (export meat, wool). A Research Fellow with Murdoch Univ., focus on meat production.
* Brazil Mr. Luiz Roberto Saidanha Rodrigues recovered farmland that was degraded because of sugar cane production. Now it grows
soy, corn, wheat and coffee awarded for the best coffee quality in Parana State and Brazil.
*Canada Mr. Steven Larcoque first generation farmer, runs a controlled traffic, interrow seeding system on 640 acres of wheat, GM
canola, barley, peas, faba beans in rotation; was the first in W. Canada to develop a controlled traffic farming system.
* China Mr. Zhenghong Li a founder of Dairy United Ltd. with 15 farms in Hohhot and Hailer of Inner Mongolia and more than 10,000 cows.
The largest dairy cooperative in China, its model has been widely implemented since the 2008 Melamine Scandal.
* France Ms. Sarah Singla Agronomic engineer and arable farmer; grows wheat, triticale, rape, alfalfa, peas and many cover crops on a
250 acre family farm which has been notill since 1980.
* Ghana Mr. Adotei Brown awarded the best farmer in Greater Accra region for production of rabbit and grasscutter (cane rat) meat. His
farm has production, training and processing centers and provides services to area farmers.
* India Mr. Jayapal Reddy Solleti grows rice, corn, vegetables and cotton and he is actively engaged in Dairy development in his region. He
played a crucial role in drafting the vision statement of agriculture for PM Modi’s election.
* India – Mr. Gurjeet Singh Mann grows wheat, aromatic basmati and parmal rice, Bt cotton, desi cotton and guar. He embraces new
technology including GM crops, and he help guide his fellow and young farmers with farm technologies.
* Indonesia Mr. William EL Bulo his business can import and fatten up to 114.000 cattle per year. They also produce compost and have 160
ha marginal land that experiments with compost usage for many different types of crops.
* New Zealand Mr. Craige MacKenzie: Progressively farms row crops, dairy and runs a precision ag company. Involved with government
advisory panels. 2013 National Winner of The Ballance Farm Environmental Award for New Zealand.
* United Kingdom Mr. Ian Pigott: runs a diversified 2000 acres farm 20 miles north of London. It is a LEAF (linking environment and
farming) demo farm; founded Open Farm Sunday bringing 1.5 million visitors onto UK farms.
* United Kingdom Mr. Paul Temple farms on 400 hectares of mixed arable land cereals, vegetables and 400 head of grazing beef cattle.
He was involved in the UK Farm Scale Evaluation (FSE) trials for GM crops in the country.
* United States, New Mexico Mr. Tsosie Lewis leads a 76,000 acre Navajo Nation Enterprise by utilization of 110,630 acrefeet of water.
The company grows corn, alfalfa, barley, wheat, potatoes, popcorn, pumpkins, and pinto beans.
* Vietnam Mr. Liem Quoc Pham runs Unifarm, a global GAP certified 1000 plus acre fruit and vegetable farm in Binh Duong province. Grow
melon, banana, jackfruit and other vegetables. A respected name among very few hitech farms in Vietnam.
* Zimbabwe Ms. Nyasha Mudukuti smallholder studying biotechnology at Chinhoyi University of Technology. Helped with virus elimination of
sweet potatoes and cassava, and was selected to attend the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa.