Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Healthy soils + clean water = more food

Food security , depleting water table and poor soils are a burning issue today in an ever expanding and populating world. The challenge is to grow enough food for the world in the coming decades with the limited resources we have. Unless we think out of the box  solutions  we will never be able to achieve the  “food and water for all” goal. Overexploitation of groundwater has to be curbed and surface water managed more judiciously in coming decades for a water secure world.

Some revolutionary ideas  to grow more food are being tried by plant scientists , food and agricultural researchers and farmers all over the world . Can we build  efficient space saving green houses in the desert where the sun rays  around the year will photosynthesize crops. Using seawater to water the crops  or create a humid environment can also be a viable option and is being tried at ABU DHABI. Precision agriculture by giving exact dose of nutrients and water to crops  is also being investigated  to avoid overuse and wastage of fertilizers and water. Converting C3 plants to C4 plants is the next big idea to get  more rice and other cereals  which is the staple food of almost half the world. C4 plants are photosynthetically more efficient as they use less water and evaporation loss is also slower in such plants.

We are all aware of the health hazards  and depleting nutrients in soil caused due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers in our farms. It has now become imperative to think of alternatives to enhance plant growth and productivity. Microbes are a wonderful creation of nature and can be harnessed for making our soils nutrient rich. Cocktails of microbes are being discovered and tried  in soils and the results are encouraging as they reduce the need for phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers, protect plants against disease causing organisms and also boost yields. Bio soils enhancers  which are self sustaining are being sold to farmers for field trials.

Food production is also hampered by the poor  growth in soils which are nutritionally poor. A  innovative idea in enhancing soil nutrients is  by making and using Biochar extensively. Charcoal made from burning waste in high temperatures and low oxygen  is called biochar and it provides soil with vital nutrients as well as sequesters carbon,  attracts  growth promoting microbes and also helps soil hold more water. What kind of waste material will make good biochar is a topic of research these days.

The possibilities of addressing  world hunger through science and smart use of technology,  innovative  scientific methods and  good management practices is a real possibility. The question is  for the young global citizens of the future to answer. Are we ready to work for THESE GLOBAL CONCERNS???

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sambhar lake views

Welcoming the new year 2015 at Sambhar lake

A Date with Flamingoes Sambhar salt water lake is a Ramsar wetland and a flamingo habitat. It is about 90 kms south of Jaipur city and is known for the ancient excavated ruins of the Shakambhar town, the temples of Devyani and Shakambhari and ofcourse the famous salt lake. This winter on 27Dec2014, I counted about 400 birds in the area behind the Devyani temple. The numbers of these migratory feathered friends are dwindling over the years and it is necessary to find the cause for this.Is there not enough alga for them to feed on? The pink black white birds in flight are a sight to behold and a delight to watch them dancing in the sky... Conservation of the lake will also conserve these birds and be a great revenue earner for the town as well.

Friday, October 04, 2013

A grand old heritage town----musings from Mandawa

We drive through forests of Prosopis, Acacias and other desert flora to reach and experience a bright dawn in the Indian desert. Amidst golden sands now blooming with wild yellow sunflowers after a good rain spell, the quaint town of Mandawa beckons us to explore its hidden treasures. What makes the town so special and a must visit in a vagabonds itinerary? Is it the painted walls and the havelis with bright frescos in every nook and cranny? Or does one like to know about the wells built on high platforms and why it is such an important architectural landmark in these areas? Walking on the bylanes of Mandawa one wonders why the fort built by its rulers had such a strong edifice? Were the treasures so enormous that they required such fortification? Where has all the treasure vanished? Historically speaking, Mandawa town was a part of the silk route and traders passed these shores with their merchandise. The town today is filled with empty homes of people who have left for bigger cities to make fortunes and change their small towner labels, perhaps to establish another Mandawa someplace else. Why such an architecturally rich city is unable to hold back its citizens, why such a cultural heritage is no longer a reason for young Indians to be proud of ? Dont the roots beckon people to return to live again amidst such splendour and grandeur which their forefathers experienced? Or is man a born vagabond ,once he leaves home it is forever as he carries his home wherever he goes. Returning would mean being frozen in time. Maybe. It is commendable to see some young Mandawa residents restoring the havelis and converting them into heritage hotels where travellers from all over the world marvel at the rich paintings and the frescos they see in every wall. They gaze at these poetry in stone , beautifully crafted rooms within rooms, inner courtyards filled with activities and daily chores and are transported back in time when life was lived at a slower pace filled without modern gadgetry of our times. People were societal beings and took upon themselves to build wells and restrooms for travellers and merchants. These old wells still stand tall and are dotted all over the town. Mandawa represents a rich tradition of the past , sometimes we may feel the burden is too big to carry yet to live and make the old Mandawa a livable vibrant city is a challenge of our times........

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Of travel and art: Wapaak II: Freedom as Viewed by Women

Of travel and art: Wapaak II: Freedom as Viewed by Women: An art exhibit at VOCAS(Victor Ortega Community Art Space) in Oh My Gulay Resto, Baguio City March 31-April 27 Twenty female artists, ...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Finally my article on bioweapons has been published in SCIENCE REPORTER INDIA. Read it here.... "Brucella- A dreaded Bioweapon" published in the magazine Science Reporter, Vol. 49, No.6, June, 2012, Page No 17


Saturday, November 19, 2011

क्यूँ खाएं कटहल?

Jackfruit grows in trees and can be eaten as a vegetable as well as fruit. Its highly nutritious and one fruit and feed the whole family. Popularly grown in south india , its not grown much by the farmers in north india.

for more details about it and how one man is making it popular check this link--

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

वर्ल्ड एन्विरोंमेंट डे--डोंट वास्ते PAPER

Its here again. 5 JUNE 2010. Celebrations GALORE!!!
How to keep our environment clean is the big question? Garbage dumping is such an ugly sight in our cities and towns. we really need to utilise our waste more effectively.

Say for example paper.....we shouldnt be considering it a waste at all. We can recycle it and reuse it in many ways. Big question----HOW?

USE A PAPER RECYCLER MACHINE----AND BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR IN THE PROCESS.Many schools and colleges in India are using this technology effectively.