Select Page

Sustainable Agriculture – A Scale Up For Future Indian Agro Ecosytem

Sustainable Agriculture – A Scale Up For Future Indian Agro Ecosytem

Sustainable development is a sequence of stages in which resource exploitation, interest direction, technical development orientation, and institutional change are all coordinated, enhancing both current and future capacity to meet human needs and ambitions.

Sustainable agriculture is a method of growing crops for more human benefit by maximising resource efficiency while minimising environmental disturbance, imbalance, and pollution. The growing usage of high yielding variety seeds in India has resulted in a green revolution. However, intensive land use without adequate care to preserve its productive potential results in erosion, loss of organic matter, loss of porus soil structure, water logging, and the accumulation of harmful salts and pollutants. The Indian government has taken several efforts to promote long-term agricultural development. Existing efforts include improving soil fertility on a long-term basis through “Soil Health Card Scheme” the introduction of the ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana‘ for efficient irrigation access and increased water efficiency. To support organic farming system through the ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ and minimization of risk in agriculture sector a new scheme “Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana” has been launched and implemented for Kharif crop from 2016. To achieve social and economic equality, sustainable agriculture methods must strike a balance between environmental health and economic prosperity. As a result, good management of both natural and human resources is critical. In simpler terms, sustainable agriculture refers to the methods that will allow us to meet present and future society food, fibre, and energy needs.

Less than four percent Indian farmers adopted sustainable agricultural practices in India

While the Green Revolution’s promotion of high-yielding varieties of seeds and fertilisers did solve food-grain shortages, its drawbacks are now visible in the form of degraded land, soil, and water quality as farmers declining incomes due to a high dependency on external inputs. Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, the annual growth rate for all farmers’ income declined from 5.52 per cent to 1.36 per cent, according to apaper by the NITI Aayog.

Examples of resilience are emerging from the ground in the face of growing extreme climate events—acute and frequent droughts, floods, and desert locust attacks—illustrating the potential of sustainable agriculture. During the Pethai and Titli cyclones in Andhra Pradesh in 2018, for example, natural farming crops fared better than conventional crops in the face of strong winds. While such examples are emerging, there is a general lack of knowledge on the state of sustainable agriculture in India.India has had a National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) in place to promote sustainable agriculture since 2014-15. It is made up of several programmes that focus on agroforestry, rainfed areas, water and soil health management, climate impacts, and adaptation. Aside from NMSA, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana encourages precision farming techniques like micro-irrigation, while the Integrated Watershed Management Program encourages rainwater gathering.

A variety of tactics, ranging from evidence-based storytelling to on-the-ground field trips, might be beneficial to promote Sustainable Agriculture.

NMSA, on the other side, obtains approximately 0.8 percent of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare’s (MoAFW) budget. Aside from the MoAFW’s budget of 142,000 crores ($20 billion), the Central government spends 71,309 crores ($10 billion) on fertilizer subsidies each year. While the Indian state acknowledges the need of supporting sustainable agriculture, the focus is still significantly biased toward green revolution-led agriculture.

Way forward to scale-up sustainable agriculture in India

We recommend the following next steps toward an evidence-based scale-up of sustainable agriculture in India based on the acquired insights.

  • On Sustainable Agricultural Practices, put a greater emphasis on knowledge exchange and capacity building among farmers and agriculture extension workers. A fantastic beginning step would be to use and build on the considerable capacity of existing on-the-ground Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
  • Government assistance to farmers should be restructured. Instead of incentivizing resource-intensive farming through input-based subsidies, shift incentives toward resource conservation by rewarding outcomes (such as total farm production and enhanced ecosystem services) rather than just yields. It will allow a variety of farming methods to thrive, including SAPSs.
  • To guide long-term resilient approaches to nutrition security, support rigorous evidence building using long-term comparative evaluation (both resource-intensive and sustainable agriculture) considering changing environments. It would aid in the scaling up of SAPSs in a way that is both evidence-based and context-sensitive.
  • Because farming community have only been exposed to resource-intensive agriculture for the last six decades, broaden stakeholders’ perspectives across the agriculture ecosystem to examine other options. A range of tactics, from evidence-based storytelling to on-the-ground field trips, might be beneficial.
  • Finally, more long-term evidence is required. In addition, current evidence should be used to scale up context specific SAPSs. Rainfed areas might be the first to scale up because they currently practise low-resource agriculture, have poor productivities, and stand to benefit the most from the switch. Farmers in irrigated areas will follow suit as positive outcomes at scale emerge.

In our upcoming blog, we will discuss an adoption approach for promoting sustainable agriculture in India, as well as a state-by-state scaling-up strategy for improving the Indian