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Cover Story

There is an urgent need to bring more area under food crops

Jan 17 - 23, 2000

Since time immemorial but despite its pivotal position every world food conference has expressed grave concern over the low agricultural productivity in a major part of the world. The situation is alarming in developing or less developed countries of which Muslim countries are an important part. The food and hunger problems in developing countries and sharper imbalances in the world food economy demand increasing international attention and development of national food strategies. Of about 100 developing countries in the world's the Muslim countries number fifty five. Agriculture has been the backbone of almost every country of the world.

Speaking geographically, majority of the Muslims world falls within the tropics, stretching from Indonesia in the East to Morocco in the West. Agriculture of the Muslim countries is mostly of arid, semi-arid and humid types. Cooperation and coordination both financial or otherwise will in the long run prove effective in boosting up food production in this part of the world. This region has great potential for producing food not only for its own use but also to support needy countries. The yield of crops in most of the developing countries are comparatively lower than those of agriculturally advanced countries. The general problems associated with agriculture of this region are scarcity of water, floods, water-logging, salinity, alkalinity, erosion, low yield per unit area, low yield per animal unit and traditional methods of cultivation. Apart from these general problems, other menace include poor quality seeds, poor soil management, low yielding varieties, lack of crop protection methods, credit facilities and non-availability of modern technology in raising crops contribute to the low yield and poor quality of crops.

There is immense need to bring an improvement by strengthening the research programme for the best utilization of the existing available resources. Extensive research programmes should include, evolution of high yielding varieties, showing maximum potential for various climatic and soil conditions. It is estimated that after every five years, new varieties may be evolved which should be fertilizer responsive and can grow well under scarce moisture supply conditions and resistant to pests and diseases. Productivity per unit can be increased through technological change. Many factors contribute to increased crop yield include that of improved tillage practices, development of high yielding crop varieties, introduction of new crops, improved irrigation techniques, use of commercial fertilizers, better seed crop protection, food technology and mechanization. Cereal crops are, without doubt the mainstay of world nutrition. They contribute to the source of over 80 percent of the world's dietary energy consumption and are especially important in the diets of the people of the developing Muslim countries.

Conclusion

Instead of relying on other developed countries for importing food grain, there is an urgent need to bring more area under food crops by the developing countries and also to use all possible methods and techniques to increase per acre yield of the crops . The effective and productive agriculture alone can bring prosperity and honour to the developing nations. This will also reduce the pressure on the population of the countries in terms of feeding and livelihood.