‘Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate’
UN agencies have taken the initiative over the last 5 years to support holistic solutions for the long term sustainability of over 2 billion hungry, malnourished, poor, deep in debt rural producer communities, with UNCTAD’s TER of September 18, 2013, taking the ARES, World Bank, etc., head on, urging for a 'Paradigm shift in agriculture' IAR4D needs attached and for us to 'Wake up before it is too late', read TER at:
Communities followed integrated agriculture system of their area to produce nutritious food for their own needs and at little or no cost, before the arrival of their colonial rulers, For serving their political and commercial interests, farms were converted to produce mono crops importing high cost agro chemical inputs, converting more and more land for commercial crops like cotton, tea, coffee, jute, rubber, sugarcane, etc., reducing the land for production of nutritious food by the smallholder producer communities for their own/ country needs. Policies, rules and regulations focused on commercial mono crops,, resulting in the decrease of purchasing power, taxing rural producers, increasing cost of production, resulting in the decrease of farm produce prices and or producers’ net incomes. The resulting decrease in smallholder farm production and availability of nutritious food, lead to hunger, malnutrition, debt, poverty, scarcity and famine like conditions from time to time especially during the world wars and after independence (early 1960 in India).
After many countries became independent from colonial rule, large sums of money were made available as aid for development of agriculture by the erstwhile colonial powers as well as the USA, with subtle conditions attached, eg., USAID made provisions to give grants for scientists’ advance studies in the land grant universities of the USA, where the curricula focused on mechanized industrial green revolution (GR) technologies (most farms being over 100 hectares), training them as specialists, with little or no knowledge about the integrated low cost agriculture of different areas in their country and sustainable in the long term for the smallholder producers. Most on return, made the agriculture policies of their country, continued to serve the commercial interest of the North (Europe/ USA/ Canada/ Australia), implemented their industrial agriculture models, using AID funds, ensuring continuation of their commercial interests (mono crops), primarily to keep down the world prices of agricultural commodities, like rice, wheat, maize, cotton, rubber, tea, coffee, etc, loosing focus on producing nutritious food, following the low cost integrated agriculture and management practices (GAP), etc., essential for meeting their own safe and nutritious food needs and the long term sustainability of the producer communities and markets in the vicinity.
The continuing focus on commercial crops lead to shortages, scarcity and famine like conditions in the sixties, creating a panic among policy makers [mostly scientists staffing agriculture research & education systems (ARES), most Central and State Government covering agriculture departments, mostly specialists, opening the flood gates for GR technologies being forced on all farmers, as part of official extension programmes and schemes (subsidies) of the Government, especially in the irrigated areas of the country. The use of agro chemicals on rich soils built over centuries, did increase productivity for a while, temporarily solving the immediate problem of shortages by meeting supply side but ignoring the demand side of producers’ access to required knowledge and management to produce nutritious food needs of the rural producer communities/ contry.
However, in about ten years there was enough evidence documented that the GR productivity had plateau and decreasing in most areas, requiring increasing quantities and higher prices for fertilizer, seed and water each year. Added to this was the global oil crisis since the 70’s, resulting in the huge increase in the costs of fossil fuel imports, transportation, production of agro chemicals, etc., making conventional farming unviable and forcing governments to subsidies production of external inputs. In spite of subsidies, the purchasing power (mono crops) and net incomes of farmers, especially smallholder producer communities reduced each year (often below cost of production) resulting in rural hunger, malnutrition, poverty, suicides and climate change.