21 Jan 2019 21:17 IST

Agriculture in focus at IMI Kolkata meet

Importance of farm sector stressed at UKIERI conference; Vandana Shiva, other experts speak

As a part of the UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI) project, an event “Down to Earth: Interdisciplinary Conference on Agri-Innovation and Entrepreneurship” was jointly organised by Leeds Beckett University, UK, University of Calcutta and IMI Kolkata on January 21, 2019 in IMI Kolkata.

As Chief Guest at the conference, author and environment activist Dr Vandana Shiva shared her views through a talk entitled ‘Creating Food Systems for a Healthy Planet and Healthy People.’ She walked the audience through her journey from Physics to Agriculture in the course of her study for the United Nations, the outcome of which was published in the book Violence of the Green Revolution.

She aired strong views on the fake claims of going green made by organisations in India, though industry estimates indicate that 70 per cent of waste is generated from food packaging. She emphasised the need to choose what is correct over what is convenient, and highlighted that a ten-year window is incidental for a change in the paradigm from chemical to natural food. She stated categorically that: “Agriculture is the foundation that is being pulled apart. You can’t build buildings and structures on a weak foundation.”


Prof Dhruba Ranjan Dandapat, Dean, Faculty of Commerce, University of Calcutta encouraged the impetus in agricultural research currently being undertaken by researchers. He was positive that the outcome of such efforts would supplement and benefit agricultural practices with technological and innovative inputs.

Dr Suneel Kunamaneni and Dr Alfred Chinta from Leeds Beckett University, UK, highlighted that the ultimate goal is to develop ‘learning and training’ packages for potential agri-based entrepreneurs, so as to impart entrepreneurial competencies, skills and behaviours, aimed at solving food challenges, both in the Indian and British contexts.

Prof Arindam Banik, Director, IMI Kolkata, said that to address the problems of sustainability, one must deep-dive and understand agriculture from the grassroot levels. Sunil Bhandari, Executive Director-Corporate, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group suggested that the outcome of all deliberations at such research conferences should transcend academic boundaries and translate into action points that can be taken up by people outside the academic domain.