Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Indian fruit genebank threatened

Jeremy at Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog reports that the government of Jharkand State in India plans to bulldoze the field genebanks of the Horticulture and Agro Forestry Research Programme in order to build housing for Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly.

According to a story in the The Indian Express, the plan will take 288 acres of HARP's land, including 88 acres of Farm 2, and will destroy
5253 plants of different varieties of mango and litchi, 6,500 trees more than 30 years old, eight greenhouse nurseries, each with 4000-5000 plants of guava and jackfruit and a gene bank developed over 20 years to have a germplasm base of 239 varieties of mango and litchi.
As the story goes on to say, this goes beyond destroying decades of work - destruction of a gene bank will also hurt regional farmers
Not just that. “The gene bank of these valuable fruit-bearing tress will be destroyed for ever. It will seriously affect horticulture prospects of the farmers in this belt,” says HARP’s Principal Scientist Shivendra Kumar.
Not only is this a political decision, it's a decision being made by the state legislature to benefit state legislators. So it isn't too surprising that they are unmoved by external forces.
This also flies in the face of a letter from Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar earlier this year asking Chief Minister Madhu Koda to shelve the plan and instead issue mutation certificate of this land whose title was transferred to the ICAR by the Ranchi Deputy Commissioner in 1976. In 1979, HARP was set up with 100 percent funding by the Union government.

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