Mumbai/Hyderabad, 21st September 2023: Heartfulness in association with Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la Souveraineté alimentaire; Dr. Reddy’s Foundation; ICRISAT, Sammunati, Biospheres and Fondation pour l’agriculture et la ruralité dans le monde (FARM) is hosting a large scale ‘4 per 1000’ Asia-Pacific Regional Conference at Kanha Shanti Vanam, the headquarters of Heartfulness in the outskirts of Hyderabad starting today for three days.
The conference is aimed at addressing Soil Health for Climate Change & Food Security. The inauguration was graced by Chief Guest Shri Singireddy Niranjan Reddy – Honourable Minister for Agriculture, Govt. of Telangana; and Guests of Honour – Honourable Sakiasi Ralsevu Ditoka, Minister for Rural, Maritime Development & Disaster Management, Fiji; Honourable Consul General of France, Mr. Thierry Berthelot, Shri M. Raghunandan Rao, IAS – Honourable Secretary of Agriculture, Govt. of Telangana; and Dr Paul Luu, Executive Secretary of the international « 4 per 1000 » Initiative under the Divine Guidance of Rev. Daaji – Spiritual Guide of Heartfulness, President of Shri Ram Chandra Mission, and Padma Bhushan Awardee. ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), TAAS Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences), Bioversity International and International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have been the partners in this three-day conference. Delegations from 18 countries viz., France, Fiji, Thailand, Germany, USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, UK, China, India and the United Nations came together for this conference at Kanha Shanti Vanam.
The stellar list of experts and policy makers included Ms. Ingeborg Bayer, Counsellor Food and Agriculture, Embassy of the Federal; Republic of Germany, India; Khun Chayaditt Hutanuwatra, Advisory of Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand; Mr. Takayuki Hagiwara, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Representative in India; Dr Shailander Kumar, Deputy Global Research Program Director, Enabling System Transformation, ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics), India; Dr Praveen Rao, Former Vice Chancellor, PJTSAU (Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University), on behalf of TAAS (Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences), India; Mr. Shamik Trehan, CEO, Dr Reddy’s Foundation, India; Mr. Anil Kumar SG, Founder & CEO, Samunnati Financial Intermediation and Services Private Limited, India.
Chief Guest Shri Singireddy Niranjan Reddy – Honourable Minister for Agriculture, Govt. of Telangana; said, “I proudly stand here in Telangana where our government under the leader of Chief Minister KCR Garu has done tremendous work on soil and environment for the past several years. Soil is the unsung hero of our lives. It is a complex living ecosystem teaming with microorganisms, insects and roots. It is a reservoir of water and nutrients. It sustains biodiversity and regulates climate. Soil degradation is rampant across the globe the statistics of which are alarming. There is a severe threat to global food security and environmental stability. With collective responsibility we can protect it by critical steps such as: 1. sustainable farming viz., crop rotation and cover cropping which can reduce delays, these enhance soil health and reduce erosion; 2. Regular soil monitoring and testing to determine nutrient levels and reforestation which can improve soil structure 3. Reducing pollution and sustainable waste management are other aspects. We need to educate policy makers and spread awareness. Soil conservation is not optional. We are grateful for the delegation choosing Kanha Shanti Vanam as the venue for this as it is teaching the world the importance of greening our planet. Kanha is a live example of that.”
Honourable Sakiasi Ralsevu Ditoka, Minister for Rural, Maritime Development & Disaster Management, Fiji said, “We have an unwavering commitment to address the impact of climate change and frequency of disaster. Fiji is particularly susceptible to an increase of frequency of cyclones and soil erosion. Losses incurred due to climate change are at 4% towards annual GDP posing a significant threat with more frequent droughts with a rise in 2 degrees in temperature and a forecast sea level rising by 1.4 meters by 2100. The erosion carries away essential nutrients and water bodies. The cultures and traditions are interlinked with the land and sea making direct threat to our way of life. Climate change affects agriculture and availability of drinking water. As of 2021 Fiji witnessed 8.1% of GDP. The temperature affecting food security, organic matter decomposition, depleting nutrients are inevitable. This is an opportunity for resilience, adaptation and management. We are very thankful to what we are doing here at Kanha for bringing in innovative sustainable measures for soil conservation.”
Rev. Daaji – Spiritual Guide of Heartfulness, President of Shri Ram Chandra Mission, and Padma Bhushan Awardee said, “Kanha stands as an example that we can convert a barren land into green living cover. Our Chief Minister Shri KCR Garu and Minister of Agriculture Shri Niranjan garu made Telangana into the fastest greening state of India. While every village has a nursery supported by their governments, we need to create the environment wherein cattle and fuel can be provided for without unscrupulous felling of trees. We need to make it an enticing agroforestry that can change the economics of our villages. Recognize the indigenous plant species that can bring the economic shift. Share the knowledge with villagers. We should not only grow trees, but also pay attention to marine lives. For instance, seaweeds have more capacity than terrestrial plants in carbon sequestering and can be tapped in for medicinal purposes, as potent antioxidant. Seaweeds have a great importance in fertilizers as they can use potassium and phosphates and can prevent soil erosion. Many minerals are hidden in the oceans. It can change the quality of environment. The other component is charcoal that can help in greening initiatives. Thanks to the Govt. of Telangana in supporting us and thanks to this august delegation for selecting this ashram for this conference.”
The conference that inaugurated today will see through signing of documents and other MoUs, keynote speeches, presentations, and policy making and framework for soil health for climate and food security. The important keynote speeches are around the topics such as ‘The global level situation of Soil Health and the most promising developments”, “The importance of Soils and Soil Health in Asia”, “A successful example for landscape restoration at scale: The Heartfulness Green Initiative at Kanha Shanti Vanam” among others by leading experts from UNESCO MGIEP, Heartfulness Institute, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – Japan; International Federation of Organic Agriculture among other prominent international organisations pertinent to soil health. Some key presentations also included topics such as “Advances in Soil Carbon and Soil Health Research in Asia”, “Soil Health situation and Research Advances in the Pacific area”, “Sustainable Landscape domain in India and other countries”, “Soil Health and Climate-Resilience and Low-Carbon Agriculture’ among others