About the Book
food security and ensuring the small cultivator’s proper access to and a fair
deal in the market have been the key areas of William Dar’s work as scientist,
policymaker and administrator.
the Forgotten poor is an autobiography in which personal reminiscences serve as
a vehicle for voicing concern for the disprivileged.
It takes up large issues and draws attention to “orphan crops” and “hidden
hunger”. Nothing that more than one billion of the world’s seven billion people
go hungry or are malnourished, the book critically examine the political,
economic and environmental issues to which contemporary agriculture is closely
tied-tariffs and farm subsidies, water pollution, biofuels,
the prospects and problems of genetically modified organisms, the growing
backlash against mechanised agriculture and increasing support for sustainable
About the Author
D. Dar is the first Asian and
Filipino Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the
Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). He has also been a member of the UN Millennium
Task Force on Hunger. Prior to joining ICRISAT, Dar served as Secretary of
Agriculture in the Philippines.
Arun Tiwari is CEO of the Indo-US Healthcare Pvt. Ltd., and
teaches in the School of Management Studies at the University of Hyderabad.
I was going through the book Feeding
the Forgotten Poor by Dr William Dar. This book indeed reveals perspectives on
how to grow and provide food to the people wherever they live on Earth, backed
by the author’s own experience in many countries. I am particularly impressed
with the chapter “Innovate, Grow and Prosper” where he deals with strategic
science and dynamic development. I share his optimism and belief in the future.
In the chapter “Skin of the Earth” Dr William
Dar brings out well the problems faced by contemporary agriculture. In the
beautifully written section Enemies of our Enemies, he tells us crops must
compete with ten thousand species of plant-eating insects and three hundred
species of nematodes. He also provides solutions. This book is timely and will
be very useful to farmers, scientists and policy makers.
At this juncture, I would like to share three
memorable experiences based on my association with people involved in
development works in Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. The use of scientific
method of farming involving soil characterization, matching the right seed to
soil, seeding in time, fertilizer and pesticide selection, and water management
has more than doubled pre- and post-harvesting productivity. This method began
in 2000 in Bihar at the RP Channel 5 and Majholi distributory and was quite successful. The productivity of
paddy increased from 2 tons per hectare to 5.8 tons per hectare, while wheat
productivity increased from 0.9 ton per hectare to 2.6 tons per hectare.
Currently, paddy and wheat crops are spread over an area larger than
twenty-five hundred hectares involving three thousand farmers.
In Tamil Nadu, the Precision Farming Project
started in Dharmapuri district in 2004-05. It was
implemented initially in 250-acres in 2004-05, 500 acres in 2005-06, and 250
acres in 2006-07. In this project, the information gathered is used more
precisely to evaluate optimum sowing density and to estimate fertilizer and
other input needs, as well as to more accurately predict crop yields. It helps
avoid cropping practices unsuitable to local soil/climate conditions, e.g., it
reduces labour, water and inputs such as fertilizers,
pesticides etc., and assures quality produce.
The Gujarat agriculture sector’s 9 per cent
growth, which has been maintained and sustained over the last seven years, is a
great success story. This has been achieved by the mission mode action of the
Gujarat government. Determined not to give free power to farmers, the Gujarat
government instead ensured a three-phase electrical supply by payment on 24/7
basis. This was done by reorganizing the power distribution channels by
installing state-of-the-art gadgets and by segregating the power distribution
between domestic consumption and agricultural consumption. Micro-irrigation
facilities were established on a wider scale across the state which brought
twenty thousand hectares under the micro-irrigation scheme. Due to the
construction of check dams, even those areas that face perennial water scarcity
have seen an increase in the water table by 3 to 12 m. Within just three years
over seventy-five thousand of these structures were created.
During a recent interaction with farmers at Paliganj, Bihar, one farmer told me, “Sir we don’t want any
subsidy. All we want is certified good quality seeds, good quality fertilizer
and above all, fair price for our efforts,” I feel these three examples and the
simple assertions of a farmer capture well the theme of this book and indeed
validate the perspective of Dr William Dar. I have no doubt that India and
developing countries across continents will succeed in growing and providing
food to every person on their lands. As a tribute, let me say that Dr William
Dar speaks from experience. He was born in a poor smallholder farming family in
the Philippines. He knows and understands both the difficulties and the honour
of that livelihood. He knows what the poor want and hope for. He is both a son
of the soil and a visionary on major global issues.
We live in crucial times. Our very existence on this
planet is threatened like never before. It is as if we are trapped in the cabin
of a runaway train. We seem unable to slow the negative momentum of
environmental destruction. It is not yet clear to us how we will switch that
train to the track of sustainable development. We are continuously taking from
this Earth. We must now start giving to this planet instead. I pray that Dr
William Dar succeeds in his mission. May his tribe increase!
of the Philippines
of the pines
country, my people
with a human face
Leaves and Fruits
security for the forgotten poor
the desert’s edge
fodder, feed, fiber, fuel
of the Earth
of our enemies
climate of uncertainty
a future to believe in
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