Volume 4

Challenges for India in Agriculture and the Pivotal Role of R&D In Meeting These

Deepak Pental
Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), University of Delhi South Campus, Benito Juarez Road, New Delhi 110021, India

Published 2023-09-02


  • Low-input, High-output Agriculture, Groundwater Over-exploitation, Conservation Agriculture, Crop Yields, Plant Breeding, Genetic Engineering

How to Cite

Pental, D. (2023). Challenges for India in Agriculture and the Pivotal Role of R&D In Meeting These. DIALOGUE: Science, Scientists and Society, 4(.), 1–44. Retrieved from https://dialogue.ias.ac.in/index.php/dialogue/article/view/26


Agriculture globally must meet the challenge of feeding a growing population while minimizing its environmental impacts. For India, there is an additional challenge of making farming profitable for small landholders. I assess the possibility of achieving low-input, high-output agriculture for India; low-input both in terms of natural resources and monetary inputs. Input, output analysis shows that bringing about low-input, high-output agriculture would require curbing the over-exploitation of groundwater resources, soil analysis-based use of fertilizers, conservation agriculture, crop diversification, and doubling of the crop and livestock productivity. Crops need to be protected from pests and pathogens, and abiotic stresses; this will require significantly increased investments in public-funded R&D. Research competency will have to be improved for an effective blending of conventional breeding with the New Plant Breeding Technologies – Marker Assisted Breeding, Genetic Engineering, and Gene Editing. Open-source R&D, collaborations within India and beyond the country with CG institutes and advanced laboratories will improve competency, allow bundling of desirable traits in locally adapted varieties/ hybrids, keep the cost of seed low for the small landholders in South Asia and Africa, and overall help in achieving the United Nations SDG 2 of ‘Zero Hunger’.


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