As I know, all of you have studied about the various issues pertaining to food security, ecological and genetic conservation and technology transfer. You know that we are faced with an increasing pressure on the existing land and we need to enhance agricultural productivity with the optimal use of resources that are facing the twin threats of depletion and degradation, particularly in the South Asian countries.
In such a scenario, our societies have to learn to take advantage of new technologies such as biotechnology, space information and communication technologies for improving the productivity of land as well as for profitable marketing of the produce. We also need to know about the post harvest technology to prevent losses and encourage value addition to the produce. These new technologies are also eco friendly and if adopted will be useful in ensuring healthy food and environment for our future generations. Therefore, we discuss these technologies in this article.
After going through this article, you should be able to, understand biotechnology, its applications, space information and communication in agriculture, merits of post harvest technology, measure required to use these technologies.
BIOTECHNOLOGY IN AGRICULTURE:
Basically, the word BIOTECHNOLOGY is composed of BIO and TECHNOLOGY, it is the application of biological organisms, systems or processes to manufacturing, agriculture and service industries and is composed of number of technologies based upon our increasing understanding of biology at the cellular and molecular levels.
Biotechnology was being practiced long before the word was invented. This was an important discovery. Modern biotechnology involves reproductive technologies to influence reproduction in humans, plants, animals and gene technology, that is, ways of manipulating genetic makeup of micro organisms, plants and animals to alter live stock and crops to suit our purpose, or to improve human health or in solving environmental problems.
There are many applications of biotechnology in agriculture, from which genetic enhancement of crops is one of them. Other applications (in short are) improvement of quality and productivity in horticulture, specific pathogen- free plant production, nitrogen fixation, increased diseases resistance, improved quality of plant products, improving resistance of plants to stress, livestock production and forestry too. Industrial uses and human and animal health are also some of the applications of biotechnology.
SPACE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES IN AGRICULTURE:
In the past few decades, we have witnessed rapid developments in the space, communication and information technologies. Today, we have at our disposal an extensive network of telephones, radio, TV, computers, INTERNET and satellites to help us reach the remotest corner of the earth.BTW there are three broad ways by which space, communication and information technology tools can benefit our farming communities as well as whole environment. Some of them are like, collection of data and information processing, sharing of data and information and adoption of precision farming.
POST –HARVEST TECHNOLOGY:
Post Harvest Technology means the conservation, protection, processing, packaging, distribution, marketing and utilization of the agricultural products upon their harvest or at the moment of separation of the edible commodity from the plant, or from water, or products obtained from the animals.
The post harvest technology is highly diverse and inter disciplinary subject of study and is includes selection and planting of varieties of crops, vegetables and fruits suited to the agro environment and their end uses. The methods of harvesting and field transportation to on-farm handling and storage. Processing of the harvested food, vegetables and fruits on the venue of production and methods of packing, mode of transport from the farm to the various points of the marketing chain and processing prior to sale.
This is the third set of technologies for ensuring a greener future for our agriculture is related to post harvested technology. It aims at saving food losses that take place during the harvesting of crops – both agriculture and horticultural, and during processing until these reach the ultimate consumer. The kinds and extent of harvest and post- harvest losses of cereals pulses and oilseeds on the one hand and of perishables on the other have been described. The post-harvest losses in the case of agricultural crops are estimated to range between 10 an 40%, while in the case of perishable these could be as high as 60% or even a total loss of the crop.
The losses of quality due to in-appropriate post-harvest handling are identified. In the case of rice, losses of proteins, vitamins and minerals occur due to wrong milling techniques. If the drying cycle of paddy is not well managed, the content of the broken rice has been shown to increase considerably, which results in the economic losses. Similarly losses in the protein content in pulses can be considerable, if these crops are not properly stored. A number of steps controlling post- harvest losses of agricultural crops have been suggested. Food saved is the food available for ensuring food and nutritional security of our people. Also, the quality of food has assumed a special importance in view of the globalization of agriculture in the Post- WTO regime. Post harvest technology saves both quantity and quality of food.