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Bhutan – an outstanding successful case study for replication in isolated rural areas.

Submitted by Mr. Subhash Mehta, Devarao Shivaram Trust, India

Comprehensive Community Development for Poverty Alleviation

This project focused on the Olep ethnic group who live on the western fringes of an important national park in the west central part of Bhutan. Originally a nomadic hunter gatherer community, the Olep were encouraged by the government to settle in Rukha in the early 1970s, so that they could benefit from the development initiatives that were taking place in the country. With no experience of settled living and their earlier means of living off the forest no longer available, the community fell into extreme poverty. This project, run by the Tarayana Foundation, has developed skills and encouraged a self-help ethos that has successfully helped the community recover and prosper. Originally focusing on the village of Rukha, the project has spread to 150 other villages across Bhutan.

Aims and Objectives

The project’s main aim was to empower the local community so that they could help themselves out of poverty. This was achieved through the key objectives: 

  • Awareness creation of the roles, rights and responsibilities of the community members towards a future they wanted.
  • Education of the children as well as non-formal adult literacy programmes for the adults.
  • Capacity development.
  • Document the language and traditional folklore.
  • Promote local stewardship of their immediate environment.

Project Description

Tarayana Foundation is a non-profit organisation working to enhance the lives of vulnerable individuals in rural and remote communities in Bhutan. It was founded in 2003 by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (who remains Chair and President of the organisation). Although independent, Tarayana works with the Bhutanese government and the local communities to help achieve its objectives of improving rural prosperity.

Tarayana focuses on extremely remote areas that would otherwise be considered too difficult and isolated to work in. The Foundation worked around logistical and practical issues of reaching and serving these far-flung places. By doing this, they recognised small, marginalised communities as important groups to support in accessing opportunities and maintaining their unique culture. This is important as remote ethnic minorities often risk isolation and/or see young people leaving for more vibrant places.


Rukha is a small, remote village of 18 households (147 people). The people are from the Olep ethnic minority. The Oleps settled in Rukha in the early 1970s as part of a government programme to settle nomadic communities so that they could benefit from the planned development that was being introduced. The government gave the community three acres of farm land in addition to half an acre for house construction and kitchen gardens.

Families settled on the land in temporary, makeshift small houses made from bamboo with bamboo leaf mat roofs. The original expectation was that these houses would be replaced with more permanent housing. However, the community had little experience of settled living and lacked the skills to improve their houses. As a result, not only was the housing not replaced, it was not well maintained and fell into disrepair. The community’s background also meant that they lacked the experience and skills to sustain arable farming. Over several years, the farm remained partly cultivated with more fallow fields that fell out of agricultural use. The nearest school was many hours walk away and few children were educated.

After the initial three years of support from the Ministry of Agriculture, where terraces were made and basic farming skills taught, they were on their own. With the failure of reliable irrigation, the crops failed, and the lack of awareness regarding seed selection and storage, the villagers slowly fell into extreme poverty. At the time of a visit from Her Majesty in 2001, the living conditions had deteriorated significantly and there was evidence of poor health and malnourishment.

Key Features

The project’s philosophy was to encourage the community to lead their own development.

Tarayana’s role was to facilitate community involvement and engage key actors in helping the community to prosperity. Tarayana’s Field Officers worked and lived in Rukha with the community. This helped them understand the Olep lifestyle and concerns and build a relationship of trust.

The project used the Rural Participatory Appraisal Approach to engage the whole community in project planning as it did not require participants to be literate. Through this, the community formed a committee which drew up the project objectives and strategies. Housing improvement was given the first priority, concluding that better shelter was an essential basic need and the first step to feeling secure and confident. Other priorities included revitalising farming and starting up traditional handicraft businesses as a source of cash income.

Three sub committees were set up to oversee the three priority areas:

  • Housebuilding and renovation: The committee mobilised the relevant community members in receiving skills training such as carpentry, masonry, rammed earth and laying stone walls. The training and site supervision was provided by a master builder brought in from a nearby village. Additional labour was provided by trainees from the Construction Training Centre. Over a two year period, all of the bamboo houses in the village were replaced by two-story timber and mud houses built in the local traditional style. Tarayana provided materials (corrugated roofing sheets, timber, nails, etc.) The whole community took part in the construction. They drew lots to decide a fair construction schedule.
  • Revitalisation of traditional handicrafts: The committee oversaw training in traditional handicraft skills which included making cane and bamboo products and also many items made of maize cob sheaths.
  • Environmentally friendly farming: A committee was formed by women from each family to ensure that vibrant kitchen gardens were maintained by each household. Additional committee members were recruited to provide specialist skills and knowledge as required from time to time. These included a Field Officer and a specialist from the Department of Agriculture who supported them and provided training on environmentally friendly farming techniques that were sustainable.

In addition to the three sub committees, the project also included:

Support for education, sanitation and health: A primary school was built in the nearby village of Migtana, which serves as the central location for three other villages. Tarayana covered daily meals for the 60 students enrolled there. A community learning centre was set up by the government to initiate Non Formal Education for adults, and the Foundation provided basic stationeries, learning aids and facilitated other sessions for the children. English classes were provided for young people.

Awareness raising activities also took place around: 

  • Health, nutrition and sanitation. 
  • Local environmental and natural resources management (water management, improved soil productivity, etc.). 
  • The value of education. 
  • Gender issues.

Access to credit: Community members wanted to access micro-credit to start up small enterprises. They took up Tarayana‘s micro credit programme to access 100.000 BTN (US$1,500) to purchase a power tiller. This served as the main transport service in the absence of any vehicle after the farm road was build.

Irrigation: Installing appropriate water pipes for agricultural irrigation and solving the previously inadequate water distribution. This piped water was also used for aquaculture.

Fishery: Smoked fish called Nga Dosem is a delicacy of the Oleps. Fish production started locally with the introduction of fingerlings from the Government fishery programme and it became a good source of cash income.

Solar electrification: Three local women installed solar home lighting systems for all 18 houses, the community shed and the learning centre. They were trained at the Barefoot College, Tilonia, Rajasthan in India, an institution that teaches community members to become ‘barefoot solar engineers’. A Rural Electronic Workshop was also set up in the village for repairs and maintenance of solar panels and the home lighting system.

What impact has it had?

Within two years, 15 houses were completed in Rukha; 33 men and 24 women were trained in carpentry and masonry skills. Tarayana facilitated the construction of 860 other houses as part of the housing improvement programme based on the Rukha model, in many remote rural villages.

The availability and variety of food increased and improved farming techniques led to surplus production that was sold in the market. With the increase in cash income, they could buy other necessary goods and services. The population saw an improvement in their access to health and education, along with increased employment opportunities through agriculture, handicrafts and selling smoked fish. A few of them also took up house construction work in other remote villages as carpenters and masons. The activities carried out to improve life in the village led to people working together that built social cohesion in the community.

How is it funded?

The United Nations Volunteers/United Nations Development Programme (UNV/UNDP) provided US$50,000 to start the project in 2006 for the duration of two years. The community contributed labour and land, while Tarayana contributed project facilitation, management staff and administration support.

In 2007, the Global Environmental Facility’s Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) Support funded the ‘Alternative Livelihood Options for the Indigenous Community of Rukha’ programme with US$31,845. This programme complemented the ongoing work in Rukha. Tarayana applied on behalf of the community and the funds were transferred to the community’s bank account. Tarayana helped use the fund according to the plan developed with the Oleps.

Why is it innovative?

  • Tarayana’s role as a grassroots facilitator in bringing together stakeholders to achieve a common goal and the focus on remote ethnic minorities are significant achievements within the Bhutanese context.
  • This project demonstrated the need to dissolve the sectoral silos in addressing the multi-dimensional nature of rural poverty.
  • It demonstrated that involving grassroots in project design, management and implementation improved the relevance of the interventions with better sequencing of activities.
  • Tarayana Foundation was able to bridge the gap between larger national initiatives and local realities.
  • The wide-ranging and people-centred nature of the project aims to address any issue within the community, instead of imposing an existing agenda that might not fit local needs.
  • Working together towards a common goal empowered the community to collaborate in solving housing and other collective issues.

What is the environmental impact?

  • The raw materials used in the construction of these houses were chosen based on what was already locally available. This reduced the need to import. For example, rammed earth was used in Rukha where mud was abundant. In the eastern part of Bhutan, the communities used stone as the main building material and bamboo in place of timber, as these were easily found in the area.
  • The GEF-SGP supported project helped introduce environmentally friendly technologies like improved fuel efficient cook stoves to locally designed solar dryers, locally designed basic improved hygienic facility for smoking fish with the help of the Livestock Extension Officer and solar home lighting systems to reduce the consumption of kerosene and resinous wood for lighting.
  • Tarayana facilitated the community to control land degradation, re-instated the irrigation system and trained the community in managing water and land effectively.
  • Local environmental and natural resources management was encouraged through the training of all households.
  • Natural and eco-friendly farming techniques including composting, mulching, crop rotation, companion planting etc. improved soil productivity. Open pollinated local seeds were used, seed selection, storage and exchanges between different villages was encouraged.
  • The use of relevant hand tools and implements were promoted.

Is it financially sustainable in the long term?

  • The Rukha project is financially sustainable as the community now has the skills to earn cash income. Their confidence has been built; all their children are able to access free education provided by the Government.
  • They are able to look after and build their own homes and have also understood the concept that together they can reach greater achievements.
  • The community has understood that they are primarily responsible for their own well-being and that much good can be done by working together. This in itself is a big step towards sustainability. They no longer wait for support from the outside and have the confidence to tackle one common issue after using local solutions.
  • Residents from Rukha are now working as master carpenters in other districts and villages (some hired by Tarayana). Master carpenters are paid well and are in high demand.
  • The community makes bamboo products on order and is conversant in the processes of pricing and marketing their products after the initial years of hand-holding done by the Tarayana Rural Crafts.
  • Increased agricultural quality and yields have resulted in the Oleps eating better, eradicating mal nutrition while selling the surplus for cash.

What is the social impact?

  • Community cohesion: The project brought together the whole community to achieve a common goal of sustainability in the long term, despite differences in ages and gender.
  • Capacity-building: Training in financial literacy resulting in increased savings, artisan crafts, entrepreneurship, book-keeping, house building skills, carpentry, hygienic preparation of smoked fish, agriculture, etc. has increased the overall knowledge and capacity of Rukha. In addition, three women were trained as barefoot solar engineers at the Barefoot College in Rajasthan for six months and are members of the Barefoot Solar Engineers Association of Bhutan.
  • Learning opportunities: The community learning centre and the improved access to school means more education opportunities for both children and adults. And thanks to the solar panels, children have light and more time to do their homework.
  • Nutrition and health: The consumption of a more varied diet has helped improve the family’s nutritional intake. The community also learned how to make nutritious meals using different vegetables. Initiatives around health and hygiene, water and sanitation, HIV/Aids and other health issues, along with the importance of education and gender equality have helped raise awareness around these important issues. Traditional firewood stoves for cooking emitted a lot of smoke, often causing respiratory problems. These stoves were replaced with the fuel-efficient smokeless stoves.
  • Decreased inequality: Gender equality improved as women were empowered through training and economic opportunities, along with better access to information and knowledge. The elders and many men of the village admired the fact that women gained new skills. They were particularly impressed that it was the women who provided solar power to the village.

Tarayana was able to demonstrate that with opportunity and coordinated facilitation, all community or section of society could become empowered and capacitated to drive their collective developmental agenda.

From a poor and impoverished, highly indebted and food insecure community a decade ago, the Oleps of Rukha are enjoying a better quality of life. They are also better able to articulate their aspirations to their elected leaders. The community also built a common temple in their village of their own accord, mobilising support from others for the statues and altar, but putting in their collective labour to bring the temple to fruition.

While there is still much to be done, they are on a sustainable development trajectory that can only bring them more collective prosperity and well-being.


  • Geographical isolation and the rugged mountainous terrain remain one of the greatest difficulties in serving these remote communities.
  • This in turn makes the cost of service delivery very expensive particularly the cost of transportation of both goods and services.
  • Having lived in isolation for so many decades, the Oleps were hesitant to express their needs and desires. Tarayana had to work hard to gain their trust. Living and working with the Oleps, the Field Officer became a familiar figure in the community.
  • Community mobilisation is challenging, as every small community has their own dynamics. The project focused on dialogue and patience to understand local traditions. This helped overcome some of the barriers that were linked to cultural misunderstandings or a fear of change.
  • Funds for housing are difficult to obtain although having a decent roof over one’s head is one of the basic needs in addressing poverty particularly in rural communities. We have seen the importance of having a home, around which all else like civic awareness, access to education, health and hygiene, food and nutrition security, water and sanitation, better farming and green technologies, can be anchored.

Lessons Learned

  • Building up local skills is at the heart of development. In fact, the community can solve many issues when they can get support to develop the skills they need.
  • Proper consultation is key to the success of the project. Taking time to understand the needs of the population and assessing their capacity to carry on activities is crucial.
  • When the organisation’s staff live and work with the community, this provides a clearer understanding of local issues and helps build strong links with the community.
  • It is important to research and understand the funding opportunities at hand. Each donor has to be approached differently and it is essential to make the most of what they could offer.
  • We have learnt to understand the increased administrative burden with each small project implemented hence moving more towards programmes approach while working for budgetary support.
  • Small communities can handle big programmes if they are given the opportunity. 


The Project Manager carried out monthly visits to the Rukha, involving four hours of drive followed by eight hours on foot, each way. The mid-term monitoring and evaluation visit was jointly carried out by representatives of the donor, member of the Tarayana Executive Committee and the project management. The project end evaluation was carried out by an independent consultant hired by the Poverty Unit, UNDP. The project was viewed as very positive in addressing multi-dimensional poverty as seen in remote, rural corners of the country.


This model is currently being replicated in 150 villages across Bhutan in 15 of the total 20 districts. Additionally, Tarayana has signed an MOU with the Royal Government’s Gross National Happiness Commission (Planning Commission) in January 2015, as a partner in implementing the ‘Rural Economy Advancement Programme’ Phase 2 (REAP-2). Tarayana had very successfully piloted in three remote villages during the first phase of REAP.

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FAO Statistical Pocketbook 2015

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PES incentives for smallholders to avoid deforestation: lessons learned and factors for success

A review for the SHARP partnership of 28 documented PES projects that have involved working with smallholders in tropical forest countries to protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity and minimise deforestation. The report provides a useful inventory of smallholder-focused projects and offers a close look at the design and outcome of seven case studies in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia. The authors ask what lessons can be learned for future PES schemes but also for other smallholder-oriented initiatives.

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Egg facts

One large egg (50gr) provides the daily requirements* of 27% selenium, 25% vitamin B12, 23% choline, 15% riboflavin, 13% protein, 11% phosphorus, 9% vitamin D.

See more info on the properties of eggs in this infographic prepared by FAO.

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Milk Facts

A daily glass of milk provides a 5 year old with: 21% of protein requirements, 8% of calories and key micro-nutrients.

Milk provides us adults with: calcium, magnesum, selenium, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and vitamin B5.

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Hydroponic Forage in Poultry Winter Feeding

Poultry feeding becomes more critical and expensive during prolonged winter, snow cover and cold weather in rural areas of north Afghanistan. In order to overcome the problem and reduce the cost of feeding in winter season when the chicken has no access for scavenging outside the coop a new well proved technique of hydroponic forage and pulses sprouting was introduced in five targeted districts of Balkh and Jauzjan provinces of North Region by the Backyard Poultry Development Project funded by International Fund for Agriculture Development(IFAD) through the Rural Microfinance and Livestock Support Program (RMLSP) of Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock(MAIL) of Afghanistan. The technique was very well adopted nearly by 5000 women beneficiaries with very good results of 30% increase in egg production and raising healthy chickens/layers, and positive impact on food security and improved livelihood of rural farming families

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Towards a Water and Food Secure Future - Critical Perspectives for Policy-Makers

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The Cost of Hunger in Africa: The Social and Economic Impact of Child Undernutrition in Malawi

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The 12-country, government-led study is commissioned by the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s Planning and Coordinating Agency and supported by the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the UN World Food Programme. The study's model estimates the additional cases of illness, death, school repetitions, school dropouts, and reduced physical productivity directly associated with those suffering undernutrition before the age of five. Based on data from each country, the model then estimates the associated economic losses incurred by the economy in terms of health, education, and potential productivity in a single year. So far, it has been conducted in six countries in Africa including Malawi.

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Family Farming in Russian Regions, Small-Scale Agriculture and Food Supporting Russia's Food Self-Sufficiency.

ABSTRACT In the paper is argued that the potential role of small-scale Russian agriculture and food is underestimated. Based on an overview of Russian agriculture the position of family farming is illustrated. The scope of small-scale-agriculture is broader than food production. It has opportunities also on employment, rural livelihoods, ethic, social and cultural diversity and ecological values. Illustrated by a number of examples it becomes clear that small-scale agriculture is a strong potential factor in local and regional development of Russia. The question how to stimulate small-scale agriculture and food is answered by elaborating five focal points: stimulating a chain and a network approach, modernization of small-scale agriculture and food, increasing regional capacities, and governance, both at a regional, national and international level. In the paper the results of a Case study in Krasnodar of a private organic/natural agriculture and food chain are presented. This shows that basic principles of working in local chains and networks are already practiced in Russia. Moreover it shows that there is a good breeding ground for application of the recommendations, presented in this

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Sustainable Development of Indian Agriculture: An Overview

Sustainable Development of Indian Agriculture: An Overview

**Bibhu Santosh Behera,Ph.D Research Scholar,OUAT,Bhubaneswar

**Prof.Anama Charan Behera,Dept. of Economics,D.B.College,Turumunga,Keonjhar

***Rudra Ashish Behera,P.G.Scholar,The Techno School,Bhubaneswar


Agriculture in India occupies an important place as it contributes nearly 25 per cent of GDP and two-thirds of the population depends upon it. Agricultural growth in the past has been sufficient to move from severe food crisis to aggregate food surplus today. The sustainability issue of the crop productivity is fast emerging. The post-Green Revolution phase is characterized by high input-use and decelerating total factor productivity growth (TFPG). The agricultural productivity attained during the 1980s has not been sustained during the 1990s and has posed a challenge for the researchers to shift the production function upward by improving the technology index. It calls for an examination of issues related to the trends in the agricultural productivity.            Sustainable management of agriculture, forests, fisheries and ecosystem services is necessary for achieving the goals of intra generational equity and inter generational equity. As the dependence of the poor on the natural resource base is relatively higher than for the non-poor, sustainable management of natural resources helps in poverty eradication. The poor also benefits more from greater access to clean water, non-timber forest products and other eco-system services. Here the authors described about various policies and strategies for Sustainable development.

Key Words:-Sustainable,GDP,TFPG,Developement ,Agriculture


As the bed rock of India’s Economy, agriculture and its allied activities have remained the focal point of the India’s planned economic development. In fact, two- thirds of the country’s workforce deriving their livelihood from agriculture and allied activities, the performance of this sector still holds the key to improvements in real incomes and living standards of the bulk of the India’s population. Despite phenomenal diversification of the country’s economy, this sector even now constitutes the largest contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Thus, there can be no sustained growth of Indian economy without broad based progress of our agriculture.

Agriculture produces 51 major crops, provides raw materials to country’s agro-based industries and fetches approximately one-sixth of total export earnings. India is a rich endowment of nature. India has diverse agro-climatic regions, large arable land, suitable fertile soil qualities, abundant sunlight, and spread of monsoon rains, comparative advantage in global markets and a receptive and resurgent farming community. Our climate, being moderate, enables us to grow two to three crops a year, whereas in most parts of the world, due to severe winters only one crop can be grown a year.

The report of Brundtland Commission (1987), defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The world commission on Environment and Development stated that sustainable development “.. is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investment, orientation of technological development, and institutional change are all in harmony and endorse both the current and future potential to meet human needs and operations.”Arrow, Dasgupta, Goulder, Mumford and Oleson (2010) take the view that economic development should be evaluated in terms of its contribution to intergenerational well-being.

The UN bodies and many governments consider three dimensions of sustainable development — economic, social and environmental. Economic efficiency is necessary for achieving the maximum possible growth with limited resources. The social dimension is in terms of equity, particularly intra generational equity. Poverty eradication is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); it has become a global public good by global public choice. The environmental dimension captures internalization of environmental costs of pollution and natural resource degradation in decision making of all economic agents and intra generational equity. It is being realized that natural resource degradation and pollution are not just environmental challenges; they threaten poverty eradication and achievement of the MDGs.

The sustainability of agriculture in India cannot be isolated from the sustainability of development of India and beyond. Agriculture is one of the important components of sustainable development.

The comprehensive definition of Sustainable agriculture was put forth firstly in US farm Bill 1990. According to this bill sustainable agriculture “as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site specific application that will, over the long run, satisfy human food and fibre needs, enhance environmental quality and conservation of natural resources base upon which the agriculture economy, make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources; and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls, sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and hence the quality of life of farmers and society as a whole”. American Society of Agronomy defines sustainable agriculture as “… one that, over the long term enhance environmental quality depends provides for basic human food and fibre needs, is economically viable, and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”

Sustainable agriculture has been recognized as agriculture that combines modern technological and innovation with proven resources conservation and food and fibre production practices to protect environmental quality, maintain and enhance  profitability, preserve rural communities, and  produce  a safe and adequate supply of food of food for current and future generations. The sustainable agriculture entails management of agricultural activities to protect air soil and water quality and to conserve biodiversity, and thereby increasing long term productivity and profitability, as well as enhancing human health and well being. Production of a safe, high quality and affordable supply of food and fibre in a manner that protects and conserves natural resources and human health are all interrelated aspects of sustainable agriculture.

The objectives of sustainable agriculture have been stated as follows:

  1. To conserve and enhance the natural resource that agriculture uses and shares.
  2. To be compatible with other environmental resources which are affected by agriculture.
  3. To be proactive in protecting the agri-food sector from the environmental impacts caused by other sector and factors external to agriculture.


Agricultural Growth, Employment and Rural Poverty

During the first decade of the Millennium the rate of growth of agricultural output was lower than the planned output. The Planning Commission of India fixed a target growth rate of four percent per annum for the 11th plan. The target of four percent growth in GDP from agriculture and allied sectors was felt necessary to achieve overall GDP growth target of nine percent per annum without undue inflation and generate exportable surplus. Also global experience reveals that growth originating in agricultural sector is at least twice effective in reducing poverty as GDP growth originating in other sectors. There are forward and backward linkages with the non-agricultural sector.

The annual rate of growth of crop output during 2000-01 to 2004-05 was only one percent and during 2004-05 to 2009-10 it was 1.7 percent. These growth rates were close to the overall population growth rate during the decade. The growth rates of higher value added sectors (per hectare of land) namely horticulture, livestock and fisheries outputs were higher. This diversification is desirable as the shares of horticultural and livestock products increase in food budgets as households incomes increase. The forestry output growth rate was lower because of policies related to conservation and sustainable use for forest resources.

The share of agriculture and allied activities in gross domestic product at factor cost fell from 55.1 percent in 1950-51 to 14.6 percent in 2009-10. This declining share of agricultural sector is consistent with the development experiences of developed countries. What is disconcerting is the very slow shift of employment from agricultural sector to non-agricultural sector. As the share of rural population in total population at 70 percent (72.2 percent in 2001 census) and using an estimate of agricultural employment of 749 persons per 1000 persons employed from 61st Round of National Sample Survey (2004-05) the share of agricultural employment in total employment is estimated at 52.43 percent. This means that the average value added per employee in the non-agricultural sector is about 6.4 times higher than the value added per employee in the agricultural sector. This order of magnitude widens income inequality between agricultural and non-agricultural sectors and suggests the need for policy changes to achieve the goal of inclusive growth.

In rural areas there has been a slow shift in employment from agriculture and allied activities to other activities. It may be seen data that in 2004-05 about two-thirds of rural males and six out of every rural woman depended on agriculture. While the percentage of male workers depending on agriculture fell from 80 in 1977-78 to 66 in 2004-05, the percentage of women depending on agriculture showed a small decrease from 88 to 83.

According to Tendulkar Committee report (2009)) rural poverty fell from 50.1 percent in 1993-94 to 41.8 percent in 2004-05; the corresponding change in urban poverty is from 31.8 percent to 25.7 percent. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Programme , which began in the first year of the 11th Plan is expected to reduce the percentage of people below the poverty line in rural areas.

Agricultural Resource Base 



             The rapid increase in population and slow shift of labour from agriculture to non-agriculture is evident in the dominance of marginal farms. In 2002-03 nearly 70 percent of the operational holdings were marginal holdings with size less than one hectare; another 16 percent were small holdings with size between 1-2 hect. (National Sample Survey Report, 2003-2004).The small sizes prevent farmers from adopting improved agricultural technologies and create barriers for accessing credit and adopting improved agricultural practices.

India is facing serious environmental stress in her natural resource stocks. Land desertification and land degradation affect the quality of land, the major capital input in farming. A study of Ajai et al. (2009) provides information on land desertification and land degradation in India that out of total geographical area of 328.73 million hect, 81.45 million hect (24.8 per cent) lands is degraded.



A study by Narasimhan and Gaur reveals that during 1995-96 to 2006-07, on an average, the contributions of surface and groundwater to net irrigated area were 32 percent and 60 percent respectively. There has been a fall in ground water table due to rapid expansion of tube wells. There is deterioration in water quality. Biological contamination of surface water sources due to poor sanitation and waste disposal resulted in incidence of water-borne diseases throughout the country. Chemical pollution of groundwater, with arsenic, fluoride, iron, nitrate and salinity as the major contaminants is directly connected with falling water tables and extraction of water from deeper levels.
There has been a severe erosion of the financial status of the irrigation systems. At present irrigation revenues cover barely 15 percent of working expenses and only five percent of total costs and losses. As for agricultural pumpsets, zero marginal pricing of electricity and use of energy inefficient pumpsets in most states discourage energy conservation and overuse of water resulting in depletion of water and deterioration of the water quality.


Policies for Sustainable Agricultural Development:-

1.Capital Formation in Agricultural Sector

             After stagnation, gross capital formation as percent of agricultural GDP has been rising from 2004-05. The share of public investment in the gross capital formation has also picked up from 2003-04.
We need an expenditure switch from subsidies to investments which augment the quantities and qualities of natural resource stocks. The necessary additional resources for capital formation can be generated via (i) phasing out environmentally perverse subsidies such as high subsidies for urea, under pricing of irrigation water and very low/zero pricing of electricity for farm pump sets; (ii) reducing leakages, and targeting subsidies in the public distribution system to people below poverty line; (iii) rationalization of irrigation charges and agricultural electricity tariffs; and (iv) introduction of user charges/payment for ecosystem services. The policy reforms involve a package of technological, institutional and incentive based reforms.

2. Technology

              India has developed the institutional capacity for using remote sensing data for natural resources management. The National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) facilitates optimum utilization of the country’s natural resources through a proper and systematic inventory of the resource availability. Some important applications of remote sensing technologies in the agricultural sector are preparation of hydro-morphological maps showing areas suitable for targeting points for locating drinking wells ; mapping of wastelands into different categories; integrated surveys for combating drought; biodiversity characterization; disaster management support system; assessment of snow-melt run-off; forest cover mapping; potential fishing zone forecasts; coastal zone mapping and crop area and production forecasts.
                The green revolution helped India in achieving self-sufficiency in food. But the green revolution is environmentally unsustainable. We need an ecologically sustainable green revolution. We need more research on appropriate technologies for coarse cereals, pulses and horticultural crops, especially in arid and semi-arid areas. The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture stresses the need for devising strategies to make Indian agriculture more resilient to climate change. The Mission has to identify and develop new varieties of crops and especially thermal resistant crops and alternative cropping patterns capable of withstanding extremes of weather, long dry spells, flooding and variable moisture availability.

         India is emerging a leader in applications of biotechnology to agriculture, medicine and environment. Application of this technology to agriculture may result in improving yield, nutritional improvement, increasing shelf life of fruits and vegetables by delayed ripening, conferring resistance to insects, pests and viruses, tolerance to abiotic stresses (drought, salt, water-logging) and herbicide tolerance. There are also concerns about transplanting genetically modified seeds developed abroad in Indian soil.

               Reclamation of salt affected lands, bioremediation of contaminated sites and conversion of waste lands to productive uses via agro forestry/corporate management/community based self-governing organizations can increase the cultivated area and create livelihood opportunities for the poor. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme offers scope for cleaning of rivers, lakes, ponds and wetlands.

3. Policy Changes:

We need policies for crop diversification, generation of non-farm opportunities in rural areas and development of agro based industries. Other policy changes needed are (i) implementation of nutrition based subsidy scheme with fertilizer prices linked to minimum support prices (ii) creation of Water Regulatory Authority for allocation and rational pricing of irrigation water as recommended by the Thirteenth Finance Commission (iii) metering of electricity for pump sets and phasing out electricity subsidies (iv) development of payment for ecosystem services e.g., between forest dwellers and farmers and local bodies in near-by regions for increases in the quantity and quality of water supplied (v) targeting agricultural subsidies and concessional agricultural credit only to small and marginal farmers using unique identification cards.

India’s growth potential and export potential in horticultural products are very high. At present only about 0.5 percent of the value of horticultural products is exported. Accelerating India’s agricultural growth exploiting opportunities provided by globalization is feasible (Kalirajan, Mythili and Sankar, 2001).

India along with other mega biodiversity countries is taking efforts for incorporation of country of origin, prior informed consent and access benefit sharing provisions of the Convention on Biodiversity in patent registrations abroad. This would incentivize the guardians of traditional knowledge and biological resources for adoption of sustainable management practices.

Concluding Remarks
            The suitable policies should be adopted which signal farmers about the social costs of different natural resources and ecosystem services and incentivize them to adopt productivity enhancing farming methods and practices, crop diversification and post-harvest technologies for reducing wastes and better price realization. Subsidies must be targeted to achieve equity and environmental sustainability.

            Sustainable management of agriculture, forests, fisheries and ecosystem services is necessary for achieving the goals of intra generational equity and inter generational equity. As the dependence of the poor on the natural resource base is relatively higher than for the non-poor, sustainable management of natural resources helps in poverty eradication. The poor also benefits more from greater access to clean water, non-timber forest products and other eco-system services.  

For sustainability of agriculture, it is essential to achieve optimal production with minimal external inputs and enhanced use of non-farm resources, maintain productivity, reduce the level of production risk, protect the potential of natural resources, prevent degradation of soil and water quality, and satisfy human needs. Besides it   should give adequate economic returns and have minimal adverse environmental impact. 


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