Nobel Lecture on Sustainable Agriculture

On 25th August 2020 – IGEN (The Institution of Green Engineers) in association with the KPR Institute of Engineering and Technology organized virtual conference, IGEN Nobel Laureate Lecture Series (NLLS) on Sustainable Agriculture –first of its kind in the history of Lecture series by any Institution in India & abroad. Having such a captivating idea in mind, IGEN, the non-profitable society founded by the green minded people, aimed at transferring intellectual knowledge to the research community, students fraternity, academicians and Industrialists. NLLS was aimed and designed to motivate the 50% Indian Youth’s to conquer more on wining  Nobel prize to India, thereby lifting the countries growth towards sustainability in every walk of life.

IGEN serves as a catalyst to connect all professionals for building a greener world by bringing together all the professional practitioners working for creating a green community, provide sustainable environmental solutions to achieve a green world and to inspire, inform & influence the global engineering community to adopt green engineering practices in their design, product, process and systems. IGEN which specifically works for Green Technology has taken an initiative to portray and bring out the real-time outcome by connecting such organizations like renewable energy companies, customers & utilities through series of events namely ENERGATHON’20 – Asia Book of record for conducting world’s first 12 hours virtual conference, GENTRANSCON’20 exploring and connecting Generation, Transmission and Distribution. On the eve of Environmental day, in association with 20 countries connected with SDG goals,  conducted another World record event – ENVIRONTHON’ with 20 speakers from 20 Countries connecting 2000 Students with 20,000 participants from around the world aiming with 2, 00,000 views in IGEN YouTube Channel (IGENSDGPLUS) non-stop environment concerned eye-opener events.

Dr.L.Ramesh, President of IGEN, expressed his pride and gladness while welcoming the multitude. He briefed IGEN’s mission of working towards UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) (3, 4,6,7,9,11,12,13 & 17) that are represented as VIBBGGYOR – each colour representing and working on each sector of SDG’s. He also mentioned the Young Green Innovative Army (YGIA) that is been developed for encouraging younger minds to design & inculcate Innovative products which lead them to be a solution provider for sustainable greener world. Deliberating the objectives of IGEN Nobel Laureate Lecture Series (NLLS), Dr. M. Akila, the Organizing Secretary of NLLS & Principal of KPR Institute of Engineering and Technology, highlighted its mission of connecting the Nobel Laureates of the globe under one forum and whole-heartily thanked the strenuous work extended by Dr.Subashree in connecting Nobel Laureates with IGEN. She informed that NLLS strives to provide an insightful take for every responsible citizen of a country to recognize the necessity of balanced social, economic and environmental sustainability.

The inaugural ceremony of the IGEN Nobel Laureate Lecture Series got unveiled with a spectacular classical dance, showcasing the cultural heritage of the nation and welcoming the distinguished Chief Guest and honourable Governor of the Telangana, Dr. (smt) Tamilisai Soundararajan, graced the inauguration.  Under the presence of the Nobel Laureate, Sir Richard John Roberts, Chief Scientific Officer, New England Biolabs, the event gained the intellectual aura. The Guests of Honour, Padma Shri. R.M. Vasagam, Former Vice – Chancellor, Anna University and Former Project Director, ISRO, felicitated the occasion. Shri. APJMJ. Sheik Dawood, Trustee, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam International Foundation, was a part of this fascinating event.

The visionary and the renowned, Chief Guest, Dr. (Smt) Tamilisai Soundararajan, in her inaugural address presented a bird eye view of the present scenario of Agriculturists. The Governor specified in particular the impact of natural farming and threw light upon the plight of children and women suffering from malnutrition. Having said that, she underlined the challenges faced the farmers in production, storage and distribution of crops. Further, Her Excellency emphasized the initiatives of the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi for the progress of the farmers. She listed various schemes implemented to facilitate effective farming in India and to name a few, Soil Health Card Scheme, Farm Assessment Kit, Micro Irrigation Project and Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. In addition, she asserted on the use of Neem coated Urea for better yield and mentioned how Sikkim has turned out to be the first state to execute organic farming at large. Dr.(smt). Tamilisai Soundararajan aptly said that “Agriculture is the culture of the country”. Referring to the words of the Prime Minister, “minimum water and maximum yield, the Governor, signposted the incorporation of technology into farming, thereby facilitating the farmers to have maximum yield”. In her concluding statement, she denoted the primordial mission of protecting the health of people and proclaimed that Sustainable agriculture would be a suitable practice to accomplish zero hunger. She appreciated IGEN and KPRIET team for initiating this series and choosing the apt topic for its first lecture ‘Sustainable Agriculture’.

Sir Roberts’s 1993 Noble Prize winner informed that the Nobel Laureates call for science honesty about GMOs was conceived in December, 2013 but was formally launched in 2016. He illustrated the distinction between conventional breeding and precision breeding, pointing out the transmission of GPS system from one car to another car as an instance. In the course of his explanation, he mentioned that it is the product that is important and not the method. He also pointed out that precision breeding has Agrobacterium with DNA to shoot new gene directly so as to reduce the time for new breed production.

Affirming that 2 million people die every year due to Vitamin A deficiency, he stressed on the production of Golden Rice as a solution for the same. In continuation with the benefits of GMOs, he elucidated the technique of overcoming the Xanthomanas wilt disease of banana through transferring the genes in Sweet pepper by precision technique. He also recorded various other crops such as Casava, eggplant and papaya that could offer better yield through GMO solutions. Remarking the advantages of GMOs, he advocated that civil society, Religious leaders, Rotary Clubs and media must play an active role in voicing out its vitality.

Two impressive ideas of Sir Roberts that drives a common man are food is a luxury and not a problem in developed countries and that there is need for more science in politics and less politics in science. Bearing in mind, the challenges of understanding the concept of GMOs, Sir Richards advised on offering scientific education to young children and a platform to express their understanding in public. On that note, he concluded that accomplishing zero hunger is never a fictional theory but a factual reality that could come true through GMOs.

In relation to the Nobel Laureate Lecture series, a total of 3 Pre-Virtual Panel discussions were conducted on said topic namely, ‘Sustainability of Natural Resources’, ‘Need for Sustainable Agriculture in Academics’ and ‘Sustainable Agriculture – Ground Reality and way forward’. In addition, International Online Competitions were also organised under four heads namely, Artistic Challenge for School Students; Talent Hunt for College Students; Creative Pitch Deck for Academicians, Industrialists and Professionals and Snap ‘n’ Share for General public. Out of the massive 2000 competitors, 12 winners were awarded with medals, shield and certificate duly signed by the Nobel Laureate and 15 of them were rewarded with medals and shields for their outstanding performance.

This momentous event came to a close with the concluding remarks of IGEN ambassador Dr. Ishrat Meera Mirzana.  Further, Closing remarks were offered by Dr J.Balamurugan, Vice President IGEN and the vote of thanks was proposed by Er. Hudson Egbert, Secretary IGEN. Mr. D. Gokul, Organising Head, NLLS and Mr. Selvakumar, IGEN Member, acted as moderators for the quintessential event. Needless to say, the historical event proved to be an eye opener to the current young generation and undoubtedly IGEN has served its purpose of propagating the UN Sustainable Development goals across the globe.

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