Mainstreaming biodiversity in agriculture, fisheries and forestry for improved food security and better nutrition
- Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum
1) Biodiversity is an important contributor to food security and improved nutrition.
1.1) Biodiversity is contributing in achieving food security and improved nutrition?
Fisherfolk is taking up mangroves conservation through lucrative mud crab farming: A case study from Maharashtra (India)
Mangroves are trees or shrubs which grows in tidal, chiefly tropical, coastal swamps, having numerous tangled roots that grow above ground and form dense thickets. They are also the breeding grounds and habitat for a variety of marine organisms. They have developed unique adaptations to the harsh conditions of coastal environments and also act as shoreline protectors from nature’s fury like Tsunami.
Maharashtra, a west coast province of India, has a mangrove area of 186 sq km. This too is being threatened due to chance in climate and various developmental activities like urbanization. But they are important nursery and feeding habitats for many marine and coastal species.
A crab species called mud crab is found in estuaries, backwaters and coastal areas. It is also known as mangrove crab and is a good source of protein and is especially in demand during the summer season, when the fish catch drops. Small fisher folk would wade through the mangroves and mud flats searching for crab holes to hunt them using long iron hooks.
During 2011, UNDP Global Environmental Finance initiated a four-year-long mangrove crab farming in 17 villages of Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra. Sindhudurg has a unique coastal and marine biodiversity. The program facilitated the fisher folk from these villages to go on aquaculture related institutional tours, get financial grants, form of self-help groups and set up pens, besides providing them with baby crabs, also known as crablets, for a mere $0.03 (Rs 2) per piece, which will fetch farmers $16 (Rs 1000) per crab after nine months of harvesting. The season for crab farming in the mangrove region is from September to May and there is huge demand for mud crab in international markets.
Instead of digging artificial ponds for growing crabs, fisher folk create pens in existing waters, leaving the tidal water flowing to the mangroves undisturbed. They source the crablets from a hatchery and not from the wild; as such precautions ensure optimal growth of crabs in a healthy mangrove ecosystem. This not only creates a livelihood for the local community but helps in enabling the mangrove conservation as this habitat is an important factor in this livelihood. As the crab farmers utilise the space between the mangrove shrubs, the community no longer cuts the branches for fuel wood or other purposes. The crabs are grown in the pens for six and eight months and fattened with remains of marine creatures like squid and eel to increases their sizes, guaranteeing the fisher folk a good price.
Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) have earned over 600$USD to 1200 $USD per year from this venture. One of the major challenges faced by them is about the availability of the mud crablets. Maharashtra government has allocated 3.5m USD to its Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (MMBCF) part of which will be used to set up a crab hatchery in Sindhudurg, with the potential of producing one million crablets a year which will also ensure extending the UNDP Project to all coastal districts of Maharashtra.
1.2) the overuse of biodiversity compromise food security and nutrition?
Loosing livelihood: Overfishing cuts Maharashtra's catch by over the years – a case study
A few decades ago, Maharshtra fisherfolk used to catch a variety of fish with their traditional fishing gears like dol or bag nets. Now that’s changing. Experts blame the crisis mainly on overfishing caused by the explosion of trawlers and the introduction of purse-seine nets in the late 1990s. Together they accounted for almost 75% of state fish catch during 2105. While fish catch can fluctuate from year to year, a 2013 CMFRI analysis of long-term trends found that the many fish stocks are in decline. Study found that CAGR had declined from 3.2% in 1961-90 to 0.41% in 1990-2000 to -4.7% in 2000-2010. Apart from trawlers, traditional boats have also increased in size and number too.
Curse of purse seines
But the spread of purse seines, which are much larger than traditional nets, is seen as the most immediate threat. A purse seine is a large wall of net dropped into the ocean, with a string looping the bottom edge like a drawstring purse. It can corral 1-2 lakh tonnes of fish at one go, including vast quantities of commercially useless baby fish.
Bottom Trawl – Greed to destroy
Trawling is a controversial method of fishing due to the perceived lack of selectivity of the trawl net and the resultant capture of a huge quantity and diversity of non-target species, bottom flora and fauna including endangered species such as sea turtles, coupled with its effect on the marine ecosystem. The impacts of trawling on the physical, chemical and biological environment of the marine ecosystem and the diversity and quantity of by-catch and discards remain poorly documented for the tropical waters. In India, the by-catch landed at fishing harbours are utilized mainly for the production of manure and animal feed. Further, by-catch reduction devices have not been implemented in the field.
Wasting the future - juvenile bycatch
This juvenile bycatch results in fewer fish growing up to reproduce. A report by the V S Somvanshi expert committee last year warned against the use of purse-seine nets in near-shore waters (shallow waters), especially during breeding season. No new purse-seine licences are being issued, and mesh sizes have been restricted to reduce the catch of smaller fish. Sustainable fishing is the need of the hour. A 61-day ban on monsoon fishing already exists. Also, traditional fishermen voluntarily close their dol nets earlier than usual in the pre-monsoon months. This has resulted in good catch in subsequent months, but much of the Bombay duck catch has been the normal adult size.
Still, other challenges remain. Pollution flows down the Vasai creek into the estuary, choking breeding grounds. Plastic has become part of the catch. And the proliferation of oil wells off Thane has shrunk traditional fishing grounds.
2) All agricultural sectors (crop and livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) rely on biodiversity and on the ecosystem functions and services, they underpin. At the same time, these sectors may affect biodiversity through various direct and indirect drivers.
2.1) where a (sustainable) production system played a key role for the conservation of the biodiversity surrounding it?
Saguna Rice Technique (SRT) – A case study on bio-diversity conservation using Zero till, More yield & Better soil fertility method.
Saguna Rice Technique is a unique new method of cultivation of rice and related rotation crops without ploughing, puddling and transplanting (rice) on permanent raised beds. This is a zerotill, Conservation Agriculture (CA) type of cultivation method evolved at Saguna Baug, Neral, Dist. Raigad, Maharashtra. This method combines multiple best practices of the cultivations such as Systematic Intensification of Rice (SRI), raised bed cultivation, green manure, etc. The permanent raised beds used in this method facilitates ample of oxygen supply to root zone area while maintaining optimum moisture condition there. The SRT iron forma (the tool will be better soon) facilitates planting of crop in predetermined distances enabling precise plant population per unit area.
Multiple advantages of SRT
- For not having to do puddling, transplanting and hand hoeing, saves 30% to 40% cost of production & not requiring transplanting saves 50% treacherous labour.
- Loss of valuable silt (about 20%) during puddling can be prevented thus more fertile land can be handed over to next generation.
- Leaves of rice plants on SRT beds seem to be broader and head more upwards to sunlight than their counterparts in conventional method. They are likely to produce more biomass, means higher yield.
- SRT has ability to bring “Vigorous Uniformity” and higher yields in all soil types even in degraded soils and socio-economic groups. For example a very new farmer and well established awarded farmer and agricultural universities will attain about the same higher yield per unit area.
- Hand hoeing is strictly avoided in SRT. Once again this reduces hard-work and loosening of top soil making it vulnerable for washing away.
- Today’s recommend dose of fertilizer can be brought down considerably.
- A good number of earthworms are noticed on SRT beds during high rainfall days attracting unusual birds to SRT plots. This magic is due to suppressing all green growth with glayphoset, which decays and becomes instant food for the worms. Also ‘No-Till’ prevents destruction of E’worms life. Thus SRT proves to be Eco-friendly Farming. This is big positive gain.
- SRT insists keeping of roots of previous crop in the raised bed. The root network prevents soil from cracking and makes it more spongy. The same roots become valuable source of organic carbon which is uniformly distributed and oxygen pathways to root zone of next crop.
- Avoiding of puddling will drastically reduce diesel consumption, emission of CO2 over thousands of acres of paddy cultivation. Also SRT being aerobic method it will prevent methane generation. Both CO2 and methane are responsible for global warming.
- The traumatic shock caused to the rice seedlings during transplanting is avoided in SRT. This reduces possibility of pest & disease problem.
- Rice crop gets ready 8–10 days earlier. Also it saves time required for soil tilling between two crops. This leaves valuable 10–15 days of crop season for the farmer enabling him to take more than one crop in the same plot in a year.
- Due to excessive water in low-lying plots removing of harvested paddy from the plot for drying can be avoided with SRT raised beds.
- During milling of paddy, SRT will yield higher percentage recovery of grains.
- Non-use of heavy agricultural machinery for tilling in field will prevent compaction & formation of hard pan of lower strata of soil enabling better percolation of water into dipper soil & permanent establishment of earthworms.
- It is possible to get high returns (more than ₹ 5,00,000 per hector per annum) with crop rotation such as Basamati Rice (PS-5) in Kharif, leafy vegetables in Rabbi, Bold Groundnut (W-66) in Summer, while improving health of the soil.
- Damaged soils can be recovered by SRT, which is caused by lashing, scrubbing & natural calamities, in quickest possible time.
2.2) where a(n) (unsustainable) production system played a key role for the degradation of the biodiversity surrounding it?
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issues notice to Punjab govt (India) over excessive use of pesticides
A study in 2011 found that the disease of cancer among farmers of the Malwa region of Punjab is caused due to excessive use of pesticides on the crops and that due to non-availability of the cheap treatment of cancer, about 70-100 cancer patients travel to Bikaner in Rajasthan for free treatment and cheap medicine at the Acharya Tulsi Regional Cancer Trust. The commission had closed the case the same year after a prompt and affirmative action was promised by the state government.
The Punjab government, at that time, had said that the farmers were being trained on the judicious use of pesticides even as some dangerous pesticides had been banned or their use was restricted.
"A study, reportedly conducted by the Baba Farid Centre for Special Children, an NGO suggests that heavy metals may be responsible for a steady decline in sperm count, disturbed ovulation cycles, increasing menstrual disorders, sterility, spontaneous abortions, premature births and birth defects," says NHRC.
"It is further stated that Punjab, especially the Malwa region is reeling under the 'cocktail effect' of heavy metals. The green revolution of the 60s' and 70s' resulted in the dumping of dangerous chemicals such as endosulfan and these pesticides are still in use in Punjab, long after they were banned," it said.
NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to Punjab government and Union ministry of health and family welfare over a report that excessive use of pesticides and insecticides have left a residue of heavy metals in soil and groundwater causing various serious diseases to many people in the Malwa region of Punjab.
"The negligence by the state authorities has caused a grave violation of human rights of these people. Due to these diseases, poor victims are not able to lead a normal life with dignity. The insensitive approach of the administration is apparent. The state cannot leave its citizens, affected by various diseases due to soil and drinking water poisoning, to live in undignified and traumatized conditions," said NHRC in a statement.
According to reports, heavy metals are reaching the environment in dangerous amounts from reckless human activities due to their use in products like pesticides, herbicides, medicines, paints and cosmetics.
3) Good governance, enabling frameworks, and stewardship initiatives are needed to facilitate mainstreaming of biodiversity within and across agricultural sectors.
3.1) Do you have any examples of such enabling factors and initiatives or the lack of it?
<to be developed>
Examples couldinclude Cross-sectoral land use planning;
Macro-economic policy and public investment;
Elimination, phasing out and reform of perverse incentives harmful to biodiversity;
Product labelling and market certification schemes;
Green finance and private investment or others
3.2) Which partners need to be involved in institutional frameworks, policies and processes for biodiversity mainstreaming to strengthen them?
We must involve the local NGOs, farmers community and government. We should look at incentivizing the farmers for their contribution.
4) The importance of biodiversity for improved food security and better nutrition is not always evident to those engaged in agricultural sectors.
4.1) What needs to be done to increase awareness of farmers, livestock keepers, fisher folks and foresters, their organizations and the industry of the relevance of biodiversity and ecosystem services for the food and agriculture production in their sector?
We must use the technological platforms like mKRISHI® to create awareness and create an open and transparent communication channel – between all relevant stakeholders
mKRISHI® CCA - An ICT strategy to enhance Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change in vulnerable regions
4.2) How can the technical and institutional capacity needed to promote sustainable agriculture and reduce the impact on biodiversity be developed?
mKRISHI® started as a Digital Innovation for rural masses at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Innovation Lab Mumbai. But soon it was felt that mere introducing the technology would not yield the intended results. Hence, TCS' experience in "Problem solving" and "Program management" also came handy. TCS picked up two large pilot projects, one with World Bank and other with IFAD, through it's partners to experiment few process improvement and project management models. This helped in creating a "participatory environment" where each stakeholder - including the women members of the family, participated. The experiences are shared in the attached ppt herewith.
Some of the highlights are as below:
Creating a Mindset Change - (through Awareness) - most critical of all interventions and involved the role of NGOs, community development agencies and also spiritual organizations (as it runs deeper within the society).
Improve Accessibility (through ICT) - Mobility kind of created a "virtual open gate" through which "Window to the World (WOW)" was established. Information was accessible, right there, where the person was! This brought more awareness, about the changing world, rights of the individual and the role models!
Develop Livelihood - (through small scale Entrepreneurship) - Women in India had always been contributing in family agriculture business, but more like a "hidden labor". But the concept of new "micro agro businesses" and availability of the credits and government funding / schemes, helped them to push to "pilot the enterprenuer" among them. This was a role transformation i.e. from a housewife or house labor to an enterprenuer. Access to finance brought lots of respects from family, it boosted the confidence and also brought "livelihood security" amidst agri crisis.
So overall a new world could be seen within the same age-old, village world. These interventions helped Mindset Transformation, from a society from “demanding subsidy” to “Self Reliance”.
Read the brief case study attached.