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India becomes thefourth country in the world to have a controlled environment research facility

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

A national phytotron facility, the first of its kind In Asia, was inaugurated by the director general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Jacques Diouf, at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), in New Delhi on May 7. India is the fourth country in the world, after Australia, Canada and the US, to have this facility.

This facility is a joint effort of the FAO, the United Nations Development Programme, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the department of science and technology. Built at a cost of Rs 15 crore, this controlled environment research facility overcomes environmental constraints like seasons and locations and facilitates the faster development of better varieties and efficient crop management programmes, particularly in the rain-fed and other low yield areas. The national phytotron facility at the IARI consists of a core facility of 22 degree C, humidity, light and carbon dioxide controlled chambers, backed by 10 greenhouses.

In his address, the agriculture minister, Chaturanan Mishra, criticised the current trend of intellectual property rights over developed plant varieties and reiterated India's commitment for South- South cooperation, offering the phytotron facilities to neighbouring countries. Speaking at a press conference, Diouf complimented India's progress in the agricultural front and emphasised the power of science and technology and the merits of a UN-FAO developing country collaboration. He did not think that population was a major hurdle in the path towards achieving food security. "Water is a major input and yet it is wasted due to inappropriate harnessing. If proper policies are adopted, then achieving food security even in a country like Africa will not be impossible," he said.

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