Dr. Rajendran TP
IMPLICATIONS OF INDIA'S CURRENT FOOD SECURITY WITH ITS NUTRITIONAL SECURITY CHALLENGE IN THE CONTEXT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL-2
IMPLICATIONS OF INDIA'S CURRENT FOOD SECURITY WITH ITS NUTRITIONAL SECURITY CHALLENGE IN THE CONTEXT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL-2
My response is as follows:
Questions:1. How should real-time monitoring be designed and utilized to strengthen existing early warning systems and support preventative policy responses to food crisis risk.
The best monitoring tool is based on artificial intelligence based public distribution system
(PDS) data management which can allow gaps in the supply chain as well as enumerate the beneficiaries who are unregistered for the PDS scheme. Access and availability of nutritious food (including processed food) could be integrated and aligned with wages of citizens. The employers can be enthused to provide in kind instead of cash as well as pay on credit food items that signify and assure nutrition to all age class of individuals in homes of the employees.
Unemployed citizens families could be brought under the social network to assure access to such food class at their gates. Any perceived risk of providing processed ready-to-eat-food can be obviated through quality certification by the manufacturers. Such system of distribution can be easily monitored based on inventories.
Food crisis in terms of stocks, mobilistion, transport and supply chains emanating out of abiotic stresses in any geographic situation need close monitoring in terms of stocking of raw materials for ready-to-eat food preparation and packaging need futuristic prediction models aside to meteorological prediction models for each nation. Investment policy on the R & D for developing such IT and AI based models has to be prioritised.
2.What are examples of successful policy responses at country level that have been guided by existing monitoring tools?
Policy responses of Food Security Law enforcement are through measurement of the health parameters of the target citizens including body BMR and freedom from communicable and non-communicable ailments.
3.Local food prices are one way to get a temperature check of local market conditions, but high frequency local market price data is not widely available. Where are the gaps such as this one in real-time monitoring and how can these be addressed both in a research and policy context?
Local food prices may not be significant aspect for access to nutritious food till the purchasing power of the needy citizens are ensured. Alternate option for validating the supply chain for the nutritious fresh and processed food items (separately) through cloud computational tools could bring in real time picture of the supply process at the tail-end of beneficiaries. Generally schemes and programmes meant for food and nutrition security shall be insulated from market forces. Countries have to own up their food security law and implement it especially amongst the vulnerable population. Commercial food prices shall not be allowed to eclipse the free supply of nutritious food. Access of such food stuff for sustaining health and immunity of citizens to be disease-free has impact on the national GDP.
4.Advances in early warning technologies and data must be matched by developing capacity within institutions at the country and regional level to transform relevant data into preventative actions. What is needed to initiate and scale up the use of real-time monitoring in early warning early action systems by regional organizations, national governments, and other country level institutions? What are the technical and policy-related challenges associated with the use of such tools?
Deploying decentralised civil society organisation (CSO) infrastructure partnership in the country could scale up realtime monitoring using modern ICT tools and technologies. The government could create self-sustaining governance models amongst the registered civil society organisations that can be chartered for semester-based analytics of ground truth collation and impact analysis of the scheme through partnership based commitment for execution of the daily targets/
The challenge is to keep together committed, non-corrupted and idealistic CSO infrastructure of the country with appropriate and timely financial investment support and esteem recognition. Generally government schemes suffer from onset time investment and subsequent side-lining of priorities as time goes on. This results in break down of goals and actions. The CSOs alone may not be able to steer programmes under such eventualities.
5.Over the years, a series of different early warming early action systems have been developed by various organizations. How could greater collaboration among the various tools and approaches facilitate their effectiveness in driving policy responses?
The general principles of business management for the launch of a product need to be pursued in this case in order to forecast the demand of nutritious food at satiation level and plan the supply chain through perceived threats for both procurement, access and purchase by the target citizens for consumption. Intensification of net-works of CSOs as steered by government machinery might facilitate effective policy responses at ground level.
1. Under what conditions can agriculture succeed in lifting people out of extreme poverty? Particularly those households with limited access to productive resources.
The context and scenario for this question vary with nations and regions within nations. However, with my Indian experience, I can confidently say that conventional farming with raising of crops alone is detrimental to the goal of decent living. People without access to land for farming and those without land have equal vulnerability as the much professed integrated farming techniques need seed money if not financial support. The bankers and financial institutions have very low inclination towards this class of people as they are unsure of returning the loan / credit amount.
Eking a living shall not be the aspiration of communities who are landless labourers or farmers living on leased land or of those with extremely very low-sized parcel of land within 0.5 ha. of dry land conditions (<350mm rainfall).
The primary challenge for such community is stable health. They are vulnerable and prone to both communicable and non-communicable diseases under tragically low hygiene and sanitation levels of their households. The issue of uplifting people from extreme poverty has direct bearing on the health status of these farming families. Another curse is the market-driven campaign of tobacco products and life-long addiction to every member of the family including the youth and children. When tobacco is the effective tool to suppress hunger in such communities, the analysis of the role of agriculture to alleviate poverty becomes redundant.
Money power is the next rider that can decelerate small landholders for achieving access to productive resources. Local money lenders and pawn-brokers suck their blood all through their lives. They cannot get any redemption from the debt trap until the governments provide timely credit at notional interest rates.
Hence SDG -2 has to be sociologically analysed with respect to SDG-1 and SDG-3.
2. What is the role of ensuring more sustainable natural resource management in supporting the eradication of extreme poverty?
The sustainable natural resource management (NRM) is part of civilizational integrity amongst farmers. They value land as their primary capital. Land as capital of farmers becomes a liability to them when the returns from it is challenged due to climate-change based weather aberrations and consequent recurrent crop loss. Sustainability of NRM becomes a huge challenge to them. SDG-2 becomes an unsustainable dream to them.
3. Can those without the opportunities to pursue agricultural production and to access resources such as fish, forests and livestock find pathways out of extreme poverty through these sectors?
The scope of encashing such opportunities squarely depends on the prevailing market environment. Perishable commodities such as fish / livestock / dairy products do prevent them from easy means of earning for livelihood. Of course, these enterprises may assist them in accessing nutrition from these commodities; but their vulnerability to poverty from such entrepreneurial enterprises in their farms would be high without appropriate processing and preservation systems. It is implied that government or socially enlightened non-governmental organisations shall enable farmer producer groups (FPGs) to be organised to empower cooperative production, processing and marketing of such commodities to fetch higher profits. Indian instances in the states of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and others are aplenty as examples of FPGs operating in tribal and deprived communities for producing and marketing commodities required for city / town markets.
4. What set of policies are necessary to address issues connecting food security and extreme poverty eradication in rural areas?
5. Can you share any examples of experiences that succeeded in reducing (or eradicating) extreme poverty through an agricultural pathway?
I may be allowed to attach excerpts from a book review that I did in Asian Biotechnology Development Review of RIS (published by Research Information System for Development Countries). This book:-
Commercial Agriculture by Indian Smallholders – From Farm Prospects to Firm Realities
Author: Prof. Partha R. Das Gupta©
Publishers: Maya Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi-110012 & Samskriti, New Delhi- 110070 in collaboration with Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Basel, Switzerland
ISBN: 978-81-87374-85-5 (HB), 978-81-87374-84-8 (PB), 978-81-87374-86-6 (EB)
No. of pages: xxii +110
When technology-driven agriculture is planted in the innovative minds of Indian small holder farmers (from the states of Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal) innovation for local adoption and it would bring huge change in their existing farm economics. Commercial Agriculture by Indian Smallholders – From Farm Prospects to Firm Realities is the lucid narration by Prof. Partha R. Das Gupta of Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), Basel, Switzerland (the Indian arm being not-for-profit institution Syngenta Foundation India (SFI) – established in 2005) about the potential to transform the livelihood prospects of smallholding farms in four locations of threes states into commercial farming for richer harvest.
There is the fast-fragmenting agricultural land holding of 1.16 ha as in 2010-11 National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data against 1.33 ha of 2006 census data, far below the cut off of 2 ha that is actually the small farm norm. The fragmentation of farm land limits farm families to secure income from farming alone. The challenge to revitalise the rainfed agriculture of small farm holdings was taken up by SFI. It prepared road map in which pilot scale projects were designed. The recent government policy announcement on ‘doubling farmers’ income matches well with the experiences provided in this book by the author.
The book narrates in the efforts of the SFI, in association with local civil society organisations to practice self-sustaining farming in Indian small holding farms. Through the pioneering pilot and subsequent full scale involvement at Anandwan / Somnath, Chandrapur (Vidarbha region of Maharashtra) as given in chapter 1; resurgence of agriculture in Jawahar (Konkan, Maharashtra) in chapter 2; emergence of new Kalahandi (Odisha) in chapter 3 and small farmers make it big in Bankura (West
Bengal) in in chapter 4, Prof. Das Gupta successfully brings out vividly the saga of the mission-oriented programme to revive the smallholding farm economy in the four agroclimatic situations. The concept of profitability from farming has been pursued by SFI through the high-tech and knowledge-driven farming practices.
Dr M.S. Swaminathan in his Foreward to the book states, “small farmers can take big steps forward” and this is exemplified in the book by Prof. Partha R. Das Gupta. As much as the villagers have mastered the technology of high speed motorbikes or cell phones in recent decades, their preparedness to imbibe high-tech farm technologies is epitomized in this book. The significant imagery on facilitation of the most essential agri inputs, micro-finance and access to market is the pillar of success to such projects. The ecosystem that is woven out of the local resources has sustained the local partnerships between various actors who patronized the increased productivity of the farm commodities. The book narrates vividly the flow of money into farming families of the project villages across the country through the SFI initiative on intensive agriculture.
The selection of farm enterprises such as market-driven vegetable production, high quality hybrid seed production of rice and vegetables for making available local farmers, integration of livestock and fisheries in accordance with the resources of the villages have been masterly entwined in the plans and programmes for each of the four locations. Interesting hand-holding with organisations such as BAIF-SEDP could strengthen the goal of transformational paradigms in order to shift the present approach with futuristic innovative farming practices. Creditable SFI initiative was to organize farmers these technologies to imbibe the farm technology and knowledge along crop seasons. The farmers could absorb technologies and skills to build up confidence for plunging into the risk-bearing entrepreneurship such as for commercial hybrid seed production, high value vegetable production or pushing the high yielding vegetable production for small towns and urban markets. The vivid detailing of experimentation in the four locations to introduce concepts such as market-led extension of fruit-bearing technical knowledge and build-up of farmers’ confidence to become entrepreneurial are the highlight of the narrative that signify the success of the SFI initiatives. The idea to move with the locally influential social organisations such as Late Padma Vibhushan Baba (Muralidhar Devidas) Amte’s Maharoga Sewa Samiti at Warora (Maharashtra) and similar ones in the locations to get to the hearts of farming families along with carefully chosen project partners is professionally ingenuous.
Chapter 1 provides lucid narrative about the agriculture at the Dr. Baba Amte’s Anandwan in Warora, Chandrapur district (Maharashtra) became an impetus gaining economic strength of the farmers of Anandwan and Somnath. The author gives anecdotal narrative to illustrate the catalytic efforts of technology interventions in reforming the prevailing practices to bring about the change in the profitability of farmers. Appropriate Technology interventions in rainfed farming of black alluvial soils of Vidarbha region is a tell-tale narrative in this book. The planned programmes that Baba Amte steers through with the help of SFI initiatives make Somnath village more prosperous. Technology driver in the ridge furrow cultivation of Soyabean in Trupti Sadan, rice cultivation in Shanti Sadan, and hybrid brinjal cultivation at Phaal village made the smallholding farmers to achieve greater benefits and prospects. The trigger for the establishment of Agritech School at Anandwan in 2010 and its growth into the Agricultural Polytechnique under the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krish Vidya Peeth (PDKV), Akola is the best example that the SFI could initiate to enhance skill in the farming families of the region. Agri-business, seed production, animal husbandry and livestock management, fisheries and aquaculture, home science and post-harvest processing are part of its curriculum to make the farm youth independent and enterprising. Skilling of youth and developing women entrepreneurship in villages of the Chandrapur District is commendably achieved by this institution in the last seven years.
The Chapter 2 illustrates the hand holding with Pragati Pratishtan (Sunanda Patwardhan ji) to reform the farming practices of the tribal villages to make the farmers reap higher profit from the farm land. Introduction of technology transfer for ‘System of Rice Intensification (SRI)’, vegetable cultivation, intercropping vegetables in orchards, certified rice seed production and agroforestry with cashew/mango fruit trees were undertaken in three phases. Hand holding with Bharat Agro-industries Foundation (BAIF) got a fillip to the tribal village progrmmes in vegetable cultivation. The author provides vivid and illustrative narrative about organising farmers for collective marketing through BAIF-affiliates such as Amrai Tribal MITTRA, Fruit Processing and Marketing Cooperative Society (‘Amrai Coop’). ‘From Thane to Thames’ is anecdotal punchline in the narrative on pilot plan of export of vegetables from the SFI project area at Mokhada (vegetable valley) village in 2010 through the hand holding with a private exporter through contract farming on global GAP norms. From 35.6 ha in 2011-12, the vegetable area grew to 157.4 ha in 2014-15, mainly lured by the market linkage to produce over 2576 mt vegetables in that year’s kharif season; all within the average holding size of 0.12 ha tribal area farms. This vegetable production hub emerged as major supplier to Mumbai and its suburbs. The critical mass for commercial vegetable production could be created in the Mokhada-Vikramgad project area. The average net income of the tribal farmers of the region in each kharif season from 0.12 ha land shot up to Rs 21000 that is 45% more than the labour wages earned by 100 days of work under ‘Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act’. Such incentives and smart options could make many tribal farms to produce vegetables in rabi season too using support irrigation. Ultimately migration of farm families to neighbourhood towns and Mumbai could be much restricted due to steady income from the land.
Chapter 3 is the SFI experience in the eastern India at Kalahandi district in Odisha. The extensive description in this chapter on programmes with the integration of organizations such as Kalahandi Association for Rural reconstruction and Total Awareness Benefit of Youth Action (KARTABYA) is a treatise to the emerging ‘Start-Ups’ in agricultural sector of the country. Good quality (genetically pure with high vigour) crop seeds being the primary input in farming, and farmers struggle to access this during each cropping season, SFI took up the mission on developing Seed hubs for hybrids of rice and vegetable crops. Alongside the mission on crop intensification for higher productivity and profitability from unit land, the technological interventions for SRI production and vegetable cultivation enhanced the scope to make smallholding farmers to be aspirants of profitability from a situation of bare livelihood from their agricultural land. Market-led extension as a strategy to transfer technology and knowledge worked well in Kalahandi, with its good natural resource potential. It shot into hybrid seed hub for rice and high value vegetables. The transformation of the project area into amazingly profit oriented agriculture is elaborated.
Farmer to farmer seed movement was visualized when the high yield variety development programme in crops through ICAR-All India Coordinated Crop Improvement Projects were commenced. The SFI took on this mission earnestly and could succeed to convert ordinary farmers into vegetable growers and seed producers through smart networking as well as handholding of the farmers groups with knowledge-bearing team of extension workers of SFI. Ultimately, the seed companies found congenial system for organizing contract seed production of crops such as rice, maize and vegetables through the experienced seed producer farmers. The author’s picturisation of the seed enterprise in 252 ha of 343 farmers with estimated value of seeds produced for about Rs 180 million is fascinating. Odisha government declared Rs 25000 per ha as subsidy for hybrid rice production farmers. Prosperity through smart agriculture could be enjoyed by Kalahandi farmers under SFI smallholder farmers’ extension programme. The World Bank funded project: ICAR National Agricultural Innovation project (NAIP) under Component 3 (Sustainable Rural Livelihood and Food security to rainfed farms in Orissa) had KARTABYA as consortium partner, as recommended by SFI. Similarly the partnership of SFI with ‘Youth Council for Development Alternative (YCDA) for microfinancing for vegetable cultivation, ‘PRADAN’ for livelihood security and women self-help groups and Association for human rights education and development (AHEAD) for growing pulses, maize and cotton in Naupada district (villages of the old Kalahandi district). The narrative in Chapter 4 is about the disadvantaged Bankura (West Bengal) district having drought in spite of 1340 mm rainfall and the SFI designing farm technology-loaded package of hybrid vegetables, hybrid rice and SRI, homestead goat farming, duck farming and fish farming. The strong association with the local organization, Shamyita Math became catalytic for developing agricultural advisory programme for the local farmers. The initiative to harvest rain water in the village- tanks to irrigate high value vegetables enhanced irrigation coverage to over 40%. Desilting and deepening of village tanks was fruitful to accelerate the adoption of vegetable cultivation in many villages. Participatory seed production plans were drawn for hybrid rice and branded as ‘Sree Rohi seeds’ could enhance the esteem and self- confidence of farmers of Bankura. With the handholding of local agricultural experts, the Shyamita Krishi Kendra (SKK) could become the farmers’ resource centre for technical knowledge, farm implements such as kono weeders and high yielding crop seeds and other farm inputs. SKK became a two-way track for farmers to access technology and knowledge and SFI vehicle to ply through farming families offering various strategies to make their farm income improve steadily. Examples such as ‘hub and spoke’ market-linked intensive commercial vegetable cultivation, potato production linked to processing factories, SRI based hybrid rice cultivation, servicing of village water tanks for farming and homestead livestock / fisheries and goat rearing / piggery enterprises are described in the book as excellent success stories that got spread over to adjoining Purulia district too.
The author has successfully captured and encapsulated in this book the professional SFI programmes that were executed between 2004 and 2014. The goal of enhancing small farmers’ income through situation-specific appropriate farm technology for bettering crop yields, cropping intensity, commercial seed production, integrated farming system with homestead livestock and poultry, market-driven crop production, micro-finance set up and committed participation of local organizations for deep participation and facilitation. The spinoff from these four enduring examples of attempt to double farmers’ income in tune with government mission is the intense vocational training for farm youth and improving women power for timely farm-centric management decisions. The perceived risks in undertaking high value agriculture that became accepted practice in these projects were imaginatively mitigated through astute micro-finance institutions. Probably agricultural insurance could become a risk-proofing farm input for undertaking high-tech farming. The lucid reading of the book to get the feel of the ups and downs of every project significantly etches into the reader is the testimony to the author’s pain to make this book a free-flowing text with number of anecdotes. The book brings out the saga of bringing changes in farming through location-specific technology recipes in the phase I to phase III journey of the SIF programmes in all locations. The author has provided the panorama of the extension mechanisms and techniques adopted in each of the location where SFI took up knowledge intensive farming practices for changing livelihood pattern of the deprived smallholders.
The author may consider the analysis of nutritional satiation of the region through the introduction of dairy, fruits and vegetables in the cropping system in the course of the mission on crop intensification. Protein and mineral nutrition is best achieved to all members of families and could be to be valued and assessed while providing project achievements of locations.
Economic valuation of satiated food, nutrition and health of farm families can be the indicators for such hard effort to make smallholding farms commercially viable. The sustenance of Indian agri-biodiversity is one of the key achievements of such projects. The effort to maintain and utilize these crop bio resources is indeed the hidden success to achieve the economic benefits of communities of the region. A value chains that are created through such projects need elaborate studies in terms of employment and income generation, social value chains, and ex-ante / ex-post socio-economic impact over decades. The project managers may have the opportunity to subject such project areas for follow up of the sustainability of these enterprise created. These could be good subjects for the local educational institutions to involve their students for training on dissertations. The silent transformation from ‘livelihood farming’ of the villagers in these states where the projects operated to ‘commercial agriculture’ has elements of emotions of people that keeps generations to remember the SFI programmes and continue them effectively through similar mentoring organisations.
One can deeply sense after reading this book that the systems pursued by SFI can be replicated through robust hand holding with small farmers in any state by similar goal-bearing individuals or institutions.
Code of Conduct for the Management of Fertilisers become a requirement when regulatory system perceives farmers of that nation do farming for profiteering business. Let us be candid to sense that majority of farmers have been traditional in agriculture. Modernity infused through technology / innovation invasion resulted in whichever abuse that we experience.
Self-disciplined farmers / farm families do exist and do not get into the rat-race of food production for global trade and food security (both of which are self-contradictions). All governments seek 'profitability of farmers'as socio-political rhetoric. Profitability earned due to reticence in the use of high-tech agri-inputs is out of saved money.
The conflict that has crept in over the last six decades has been the clamour for food. AS in the case of any other animals, hummans can still acquire food with smartness. Maintaining the carrying capacity with strong ecological engineering to sustain farm soil-fertility (using traditional and modern methods) may be the right solution. The Code of Conduct (not dictated) hence shall be motivational with strong impetus for managing farms for posterity and getting into the turmoil on the mission for 'feeding the rest of the world'.
Thanks and Ragards
The discussion forum has incited wonderful thoughts. Globally fertilisers are managed for making it available through domestic manufacture and / or import. Based on the general plan of national agriculture for each year (in the case of India for three distinct seasons, viz., rainy (kharif), irrigated / second crop (rabi) and summer seasons) in every country. The primary nutrient supply envisaged through fertilisers being nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, their quantities for the country depends on the use pattern for various cropping systems.
Fertiliser becomes a major input in India and neighbouring South Asian countries only for commercial agriculture of cereals, pulses, oilseeds, cotton, sugarcane and for horticulture crops such as tubers, bulbs, vegetables etc., plantation crops (rubber / coffee / tea / cardamom etc.) and a host of others. The total national nutrient requirement guides the annual fertiliser business.
The next instability issue is the damage to soil health. Soil health is the resultant of the microbial load and biological value of soil. The need for national policy to blend nutrients from the biological resources from within and outside farms is well recognised. Probably streaming such policy with intensive agriculture system of crop production within new approach to cropping system designs could bring major shift in excessive use of fertilisers. The olden concept of discriminatory fertiliser application based on soil and plant nutrient status of given seasons may brighten chances for higher judiciousness to invoke scientific principles of crop nutrition.
Lastly this forum may focus also on the immense impact on herbivory in crop fields due to excessive and imbalanced nutrient regimes in crops. The crop health in tandem with animal health of every farm reflects on the human health (as enunciated in the W.H.O’s - ONE HEALTH – ideology of yester-years). Immense pestilence due to keeping the crops highly nutritious to the herbivores cannot be the practice in intensive agriculture. The need for scientific perception for metabolic requirements of nutrients in every crop species is fortifying the demand for corrective fertiliser policy in every country along with supportive legislative measure including for fertiliser use in crops. Introducing agro-chemicals for mitigation of pestilence in crops became another vitiating practice in combination with excessive use of fertilisers.
Let me conclude by placing on record that this FORUM may recommend to the world for redefining GOOD AGRICULTURE PRACTICE ( other than that of WTO context) to refine farming practices in developing countries.
Dr TP Rajendran
former Asst DG (Plant Protection),ICAR &
former Officer on Special Duty:ICAR-National Institute of Biotic Stress Management, Raipur, Chhattisgargh
India has been traditionally practising integrated farming system (IFS) in households. With the small piece of land of 0.4 ha or below that food commodities for the family used to be through cereal crops, tuber crops and vegetables along with backyard poultry and goats if not one or two bovine animals.
The idea of commercial agriculture led to mono-cropping and market driven agriculture. Emphasis on quantities paved the road for the use of agrochemicals such as fertilisers, pesticides and other agrochemicals. The package of practices towards maximisation of yield from high yielding crop varieties (hybrids??) left with farmers the paradigm of hopeful bounty although every five year average was ‘standstill progress’ of the farm economics. High investment for maximisation of farm productivity focussed to crops left the farmers with negative balance and huge risk in the wake of dwindling marketing opportunity.
UN-Sustainable development goal-2 aspires for zero hunger and sustainable agriculture. Sustainability cannot be dreamt of in agriculture with drive for targeted agricultural production and productivity through technologies that suck in farmers’ investment for farm inputs. It has ended up as market driven hawkish input service system and no market appreciation for farm commodities.
Today globally farmers have become disillusioned due to the unsustainable farm economics. Indian farmers’ plight is no different from this. The challenge on nutrition of farm families due to negative balance arising from farming lead to poor nutrition of these small-farmers (land holders & landless labourers) and farm-families.
Sustainable agriculture shall focus into nutritious farm commodities and is possible if the marginal farmers are given direct cash transfer for purchase of commodities from market wherever these are not cultivated or produced in their farms.
Lastly addiction to tobacco and alcohol has become rampant in rural life. Tobacco is used in families to suppress hunger of its members who ultimately become addicts. The government policies on these revenue earning commodities has become evil influence in rural life. The aspiration for sustainable agriculture and nutritional security backfires when the health of the rural farming communities is challenged under the influence of government patronage of such addictive substances.
The correction of such situation begins from a moral and pecuniary upgradation of rural folks.
Can non-government organisations arise and group together to fight this impasse?
Dr. Rajendran TP
Dr TP Rajendran
Retired Asst. DG (Plant Protection), ICAR, Department of Agriculture Research and Education, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India
My inputs are given below:
Analysis of the complexities and practical problems associated with science-policy interfaces
It is significant to decipher the essentiality and emrgency of the research in agriculture of a country through its plethora of institutes. Practical problems in farms are a traditional experience of farmers over generations. Comprehending these problems across the variation in natural resources including weather changes over several decades is essential to understand how traditions in farming were brought into traditional knowledge systems across continents. In this Anthropocene era, the policy framework is mainly for funding research, financing agriculture with the goal of satiating food security locally in each country and globally in all deserving countries of the seven continents.
Traditional farming knowledge has embedded much science in terms of modern research output. Many rediscoveries could enhance and sharpen the adaptive technologies that are now offered through government-patronised knowledge extension systems as well as by commercial agri-business consultancy systems. All said and done, the target to produce more from diminishing natural resources in the farm lands has driven us to engage in this FAO-discussion too. The paradigm to implement local indigenous farm solutions that would resolve commodity production constraints could provide enough production of those agri-commodities to satiate local food needs. Let’s for once remove from our goals global hunger index metrics and drive country-needs of food requirements under very peaceful political situations. Many global eruptions of conflicts have aggravated global strain of hunger across continents. No matching science and policy can bring any harmony to such people in constant strife.
Knowledge production for policy
Synthesis of local and global scientific and technological output in enhancing constancy in farming in all nations towards deriving benefits of harmonised commodity production has always the challenge to farmers from the markets that eat into the realtime pricing of agri-commodities. In the quest for global food security after securing the UN-sustainable development goals there is very poor synteny of aligned policy from available knowledge reservoir.
Knowledge translation for policy-making
Translation of available national and globally accessible knowledge, science and technology for ‘proftable’ crop commodity production plans get hit when the natural resources of farms do not align well with the policies.
Indian Green Revolution era has the typical evidence to show the world that in spite of professed technology and science for finding the miscarriage of goals of sustained and stable crop commodity production without harming natural resources significantly. Unlearning and reinventing traditional crop production strategies has gone into the unwinding of the ‘glorified’ and ‘professed’ promise of satiating all the hungry Indians in the last century. Beyond the conundrum of purchasing power, government subsidised access to food also became challenge due to enormous increase in the costs for paying farmers as well as maintaining the flow of food grains through public distribution network of the states.
Recent examples for hunting and validating the Indigenous Traditonal knowledge in Indian farming led to the discovery of ‘non-chemical farming’ touted to be ‘organic farming’, ‘nature farming’, ‘chemical-free farming’ and ‘Best farming solutions’. The Indian government has framed policy for ‘traditional farming / organic farming / nature farming and has announced huge investment.
While researchers shunned these systems of crop production for many past decades fearing crash in crop production and productivity, the band-wagon researchers have now come out with prescriptive technology support for the new approach in turning conventional farming practises into tradition-driven practices.
Many islands of such cropping systems where in overwhelming emphasis for microbial agri-inputs are stressed upon in farming practices, have successfully sprung up in Indian states with demonstrable success of sustained crop productivity across seasons. Low to no-tillage farming in addition to enhanced supply of farm yard manure and composts could enhance significantly soil organic carbon beneficially. From national average 0.2 -0.3 percentage the organic carbon content in farms were enhanced to 0.7 to 1.0 in various agroclimatic zones across states resulting in the competitive crop productivity at far-reduced cost of production.