IN CONVERSATION: Reconciling biodiversity conservation with agricultural intensification
The following is an interview with Prof. M. S. Swaminathan, considered as the ‘Father of Green Revolution in India’, on his views on how there can be a reconciliation between biodiversity conservation and agricultural intensification in the country. Swaminathan along with his colleagues, ushered in a phase of agricultural intensification in the 1960s and 70s that India had never seen before. Within just a couple of decades, the country turned from a food importer to a food exporter and went on to become a food secure nation. However, this was not without several negative externalities, one of which was the loss of biodiversity due to expansion of cultivable area. No wonder then, one of the ardent champions of conserving biodiversity in its entirety, is Swaminathan himself. He strongly believed that, from pollination services to soil health services, biodiversity needs to be conserved for agriculture to be sustainable. In his own words, ‘If conservation of natural resources goes wrong, nothing else will go right’. In recent years he has been advocating for the ‘Evergreen Revolution’, which involves sustainable development using environmentally sustainable agriculture through preservation of biodiversity.