For sustainable development of agriculture, the Government of India is looking at proper management of plant and animal genetic resources. The government has taken a number of steps to conserve India’s rich genetic diversity and many more are in the offing
India is one of the twelve world mega-biodiversity centers. Three of the 34 hot spots of biodiversity are present in India. Of the world’s total known species, 8.25% belong to India. Interestingly, over 10% of the world’s microbial bio-diversity exists in India.
India has set up four Bureaus for conservation of genetic resources relating to plants, animals, fish and microorganisms. The national seed gene bank has over 3.6 lakh accessions. Besides other things, the Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources maintains frozen semen, somatic cells and DNA samples of indigenous animal breeds. ICAR is establishing a Genomic Resource Centre to conserve DNA of indigenous life forms, especially the rare and endangered species. A Bureau for Conservation of Genetic Resources of Agriculturally Important Insects is being established.
Mr Sharad Pawar, Minister for Agriculture, Government of India said that it is imperative to conserve the vast genetic diversity available in the country for sustainable development of crop production and animal husbandry, phyto-pharmaceuticals and overall human well being addressing the importance of genetic resources in ecological issues. Today, global climate change and loss of natural habitats through human activities have become solemn issues world wide. Ecological implications of climate change and of agricultural intensification are major constraints to sustainable development of agriculture-based systems. So far, there is little awareness among professionals of the close relationship between climate change and food security and the role genetic resource has to play. It is imperative to manage these resources in a sustainable way. Climate change-induced environmental stress may in fact go beyond the reach of adaptation and in situ approach of genetic resource conservation offers a great chance to shape a future worth living.
The minister also highlighted the role of traditional farming practices in conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources in India. He advocated a judicious mix of traditional wisdom and modern technologies to harness the genetic wealth. Further, a blend of modern science and indigenous knowledge will be required to face the challenges of increasing agricultural production in decades ahead. We should be especially concerned with incorporating greater diversity within agricultural production systems. New approaches to agricultural research and development are being tried in various places around the world, and virtually all of them emphasize a much better harnessing and management of biological resources than has prevailed in the past.