Contested Proprietary Technology: In Search Of a Non-Proprietary Technology In Agriculture In India

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:18 AM
Room: Booth 44
Oral Presentation
Sambit MALLICK , Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, Guwahati, India
The paper reviews the strategies by the Government of India over time to improve the state of agriculture. The strategies and the institutional and organizational framework within which these strategies were conceived of and implemented though have contributed to improvement in agricultural productivity have led to larger consequences – exclusion of some regions, communities in the region and crops and marginalization of knowledge of those engaged in the cultivation of such crops and their marginalization from the process of development, exasperation of inter-regional and intra-regional socioeconomic disparities, and environmental problems, raising questions of equity, sustainability, justice – distributive as well as cognitive. Further, productivity based on green revolution strategy has reached a plateau and substantial yield gaps still persist. In this context, modern biotechnology tools having potential to improve crops assume significance. The paper focuses on the potential of non-controversial, genomics-based Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS) technology for addressing biotic and abiotic stresses and yield enhancement in agriculture. As a corollary the institutional, organizational and regulatory issues associated with the development, application and deployment of MAS technology for innovations in agriculture in India are important. In other words, the national innovation system especially with reference to agriculture has to be restructured by establishing productive linkages among public R&D institutions, policy making, regulatory issues and large scale production of products including seed based on MAS. Priority setting with respect to which crops and which traits in a given crop has to be made and adequate resources, physical and human, and institutional and organizational arrangements have to be developed to achieve useful results. Further, MAS is a non-proprietary technology, and hence conflicting interests about ownership and control will be kept to the minimum. The MAS has the potential to promote more inclusive and user-centered innovations in agriculture in all the regions including rain-fed areas.