Strong patent regime needed for GM crops: Minister

    By IANS,

    Hyderabad : The World Agriculture Forum Congress (WAFC) 2013 began here Tuesday with union Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar calling for a strong patent regime to regulate genetically modified (GM) crops in the country.

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    Addressing the inaugural session of the conference, he called upon the scientific community to put forth suggestions for a strong patent regime.

    He said the scientific community should take up valuation of GM crops and discuss their relevance to Indian agricultural practices. The union minister also stressed the need to encourage contract farming in India as it would be beneficial to farmers.

    Inaugurating the conference, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy stressed the need to enthuse educated youth to take up agriculture as a profession. Voicing concern over the rising cost of agriculture, he called for steps to make it profitable for farmers.

    With the theme ‘Re-shaping agriculture for sustainable future: Focus on small farmholders’, the conference is discussing how to improve the fortunes of small and marginal farmers.

    Scientists, experts, academicians, officials, farmers and NGOs from different countries are taking part in the conference, being held for the first time in Asia.

    About 300 delegates, including 33 from various countries, will discuss in 29 sessions different aspects of agriculture and allied sectors. There will be 13 keynote addresses, 11 round table discussions and five concurrent sessions.

    James Bolger, chairman of World Agriculture Forum (WAF) advisory board and former prime minister of New Zealand, said the conference had provided an opportunity to examine the global needs which must be provided by agriculture in a new, challenging and different environment.

    He noted that the demands and responsibilities placed on agriculture increased as a source of food, energy, clothing, raw materials and pharmaceuticals – all the while using less water and reducing its environmental impact.

    WAFC-2013 is expected to provide a policy direction to developing countries on how to re-shape agricultural policy in order to make farming a viable and attractive profession.

    The conference will also discuss issues related to India, which has about 110 million farm holdings including 12.3 million in Andhra Pradesh.