Chennai, May 22 (IANS) Vice President M.Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said that the dependence on few crops affects food security and loss in diversity can also lead to lifestyle diseases.
At an event to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity here, Naidu said: “Over the past several decades, while we have acquired the capability to produce large quantities of food and have become quite self-sufficient, we have simultaneously increased our dependence on just a handful of crops.”
Even at the global level in the last 100 years, more than 90 percent of crop varieties have disappeared from farmers’ fields, affecting the food security of billions of people across the globe, he added.
“As much as 80 per cent of food supply is based on a few crops such as rice, wheat, maize and millets. The loss of diversity in diets is directly linked to lifestyle diseases as well,” Naidu said.
He said half of the breeds of domestic animals have been lost and over-fishing has had its adverse impact on aquatic resources as well resulting in decline of agro-biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge related to food and medicine.
The Vice President said the Indian way of life has been to eat seasonal and locally available food, a principle that is also endorsed by the traditional Indian systems of medicine.
“In our country, the traditional food systems evolved over centuries have proven to be healthier and more balanced from the nutrition point of view. Millet-based meals consumed extensively in rural areas all over India are extremely nutrient rich,” Naidu added.
According to him, modern man must re-establish the link with nature, as did the ancients in India centuries ago, and take from Earth and the environment only so much as can be replenished.
He said historically, conservation of nature and natural resources was an innate aspect of the Indian psyche and faith, reflected in religious practices, folklore, art and culture permeating every aspect of the daily lives of the people.
India also has a long cultural tradition of frugality and simple living in harmony with nature.
“The conservation ethos is deeply ingrained in our people.
“Unfortunately, the symbiotic relationship of man with nature gets debilitated as societies develop. And, any damage to environment risks the well-being of future generations to come,” he added.