Alappuzha: State Minister for Agriculture Development and Farmers' Welfare P Prasad on Friday announced that the Mankombu Rice Research Centre under the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) will now be known as 'M S Swaminathan Rice Research Centre'. The research centre played a key role in the farm sector advancements of Kuttanad and the new name is in memory of the contributions of the great Swaminathan who recently passed away.
Speaking at the Swaminathan memorial meeting held here, the minister said Swaminathan was a genius who proved through his life and works that science is meant for the common man.
“He was able to set an example to the world. He showed what a scientist should be. Being the son of Kuttanad, he kept the agriculture and life of Kuttanad close to his heart. It’s only befitting that the research centre is named after him,” the Minister said.
Decades after Independence, Swaminathan was able to redefine what patriotism is. He understood that a country is a combination of its soil and its people and that proper patriotism is to help the people who inhabit the nation. His patriotism and politics were to consider and help up to the last man in the line. Swaminathan always thought of the common man, Prasad reflected.
“Known as the father of the Indian Green Revolution, he later proposed the idea of an evergreen revolution. He believed that the country needed an agricultural movement that considered the environment with man and nature at its centre. He proposed to take agriculture forward with minimum essential fertilizers and minimal chemical pesticides,” the minister said.
Prasad assured that the government will back the Swaminathan Research Foundation's activities. Director of the International Research and Training Centre for Below Sea Level Farming (IRTCBSF), Kuttanad, Dr K G Padmakumar, who was a close aide of Swaminathan, and helped the latter in coming up with the Kuttanad package proposals, was present among the dignitaries. Kodikunnil Suresh MP and Thomas K Thomas MLA also attended the commemorative function organized jointly by the Kerala Agriculture University and the Department of Agriculture here.
Dr Swaminathan, who transformed the post-Independent India’s image from that of an agricultural basket case to a breadbasket, had his roots in Kuttanad -Kerala’s granary. One of his key contributions, the high-yielding rice variety IR8, was instrumental in revolutionizing the state’s paddy farming sector in Kerala. In 2007, a committee led by him submitted a report on the "Measures to mitigate agrarian distress in Alappuzha and Kuttanad wetland ecosystem", which prompted the government to announce a special package to restore Kuttanad. The study also prompted the Food and Agriculture Organisation to declare the Kuttanad Wetland Agriculture System as a Global Heritage Agriculture System.
The Rice Research Centre was established in 1940 at Mankombu, with the financial support of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. With the formation of the Kerala Agricultural University in 1972, it was brought under the university.