Gupta, Modadugu


Gupta, Modadugu
▪ 2007

      In 2006 Indian scientist Modadugu Gupta was at the forefront of what some in the scientific community had termed the Blue Revolution—the dramatic expansion of fish farming, or aquaculture, in some of the most impoverished regions of the world. The Blue Revolution was credited with improving the nutrition and enhancing the livelihoods of the rural poor through the spread of innovative techniques that could significantly boost food production. Many of these techniques had been pioneered by Gupta in the 1970s. They included, for example, breeding species of carp that were adaptable to a variety of harsh environments, using common farm wastes such as weeds and chicken manure as fish food, and converting flooded fields and other seasonal water bodies into places to grow fish. Some areas of South and Southeast Asia where Gupta had worked with local farmers experienced as much as fivefold increases in fish harvests. For his decades of effort and research in aquaculture, Gupta was awarded the international World Food Prize in October 2005. The $250,000 prize was established in 1986 by Norman Borlaug, the “father” of the Green Revolution.

      Gupta was born on Aug. 17, 1939, in Bapatla, Andhra Pradesh, India. After earning a Ph.D. from the University of Calcutta (now Kolkata), he joined the Indian Council of Agricultural Research as a research associate. He later began a longtime association with the WorldFish Centre, eventually serving as the organization's assistant director general. In the 1970s, at a time when intense harvesting by commercial fishing fleets had caused a serious decline in the world's wild fish stock, Gupta began introducing his aquaculture methods to poor farmers in India, demonstrating to them how they could easily integrate aquaculture into their routines. Freshwater fish production in the country soon more than doubled, and Gupta began to think about using his expertise abroad.

      From 1986 to 1995 he worked with the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute. Gupta's efforts in Bangladesh were notable for his involvement of rural women, who traditionally were limited to working inside the home. With the help of local nongovernmental organizations, Gupta persuaded many women to start small fish farms in their areas. He also helped spread aquaculture in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

      Some critics objected to Gupta's work on the basis that fish farming posed environmental as well as health hazards. Gupta conceded that some farmers overused fish feed and fertilizer, but he said that the solution was to educate these farmers in proper aquaculture techniques. He also insisted that aquaculture was meeting a crucial need as the world's wild fish stock dwindled. Gupta saw great potential for aquaculture in Africa, and by 2006 he was advising a number of countries there.

Sherman Hollar

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▪ Indian scientist
born Aug. 17, 1939, Bapatla, Andhra Pradesh, India

      Indian scientist, who boosted food yields in impoverished areas with innovative approaches to aquaculture.

      Gupta earned a doctorate from the University of Calcutta and joined the Indian Council of Agricultural Research as a research associate. He later began a longtime association with the WorldFish Center, eventually serving as the organization's assistant director general. In the 1970s, at a time when intense harvesting by commercial fishing fleets had caused a serious decline in the world's wild fish stock, Gupta began introducing his aquaculture methods to poor farmers in India, demonstrating to them how they could easily integrate aquaculture into their routines. Freshwater fish production in the country soon more than doubled.

      Gupta subsequently became a leading figure in the so-called Blue Revolution, the expansion of fish farming that was credited with improving the nutrition and enhancing the livelihoods of the rural poor through the spread of techniques that could significantly boost food production. Many of these techniques had been pioneered by Gupta. They included breeding species of carp that are adaptable to a variety of harsh environments, using common farm wastes such as weeds and chicken manure as fish food, and converting flooded fields and other seasonal water bodies into places to grow fish. Some areas of South and Southeast Asia where Gupta had worked with local farmers experienced as much as fivefold increases in fish harvests.

      From 1986 to 1995 Gupta worked with the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute. His efforts in Bangladesh were notable for his involvement of rural women, who traditionally were limited to working inside the home. With the help of local nongovernmental organizations, Gupta persuaded many women to start small fish farms in their areas. He also helped spread aquaculture in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

      Some critics objected to Gupta's work on the basis that fish farming posed environmental as well as health hazards. Gupta conceded that some farmers overused fish feed and fertilizer, but he said that the solution was to educate these farmers in proper aquaculture techniques. He also insisted that aquaculture was meeting a crucial need as the world's wild fish stock dwindled. Gupta saw great potential for aquaculture in Africa, and by 2006 he was advising a number of countries there. For his decades of effort and research in aquaculture, Gupta was awarded the international World Food Prize in October 2005.

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Universalium. 2010.

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