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India’s sustainable Agri transition

  • Published
    23rd Jun, 2023
Context

As per the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) sustainable food systems programme report, Market access is critical for the success of India’s momentum towards organic and natural farming.

Key-highlights of the Report:

  • It highlighted that how various stakeholders procure process and sell organic and natural produce while trying to ensure remunerative prices to farmers.
  • The document also identified some of the challenges faced by them.
  • Lack of market access is a barrier in India’s journey towards non-chemical farming practice.
  • Under the report, CSE identified three categories of stakeholders
    • Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO) and the federation of FPOs,
    • Retail food corporations and
    • State government programmes

The story of India’s Agri-transition:

  • Till the early 1960’s, the predominant mode of cultivation was what is now called “organic farming”, with no synthetic fertilisers or pesticides available or known.
  • Since the use of urea from the beginning of the 1960s, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium-based fertilisers became available after the establishment of industrial plants at Sindri (Bihar) Udyog Mandal (Kerala).
  • Also, in this decade, synthetic pesticides like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), endrin, and others entered the market.
  • Another spectacular discovery was that of the high-yielding hybrid wheat and rice.
  • The high-yielding wheat was discovered by Norman Borlaug (Nobel Prize winner) and was rapidly adopted by India largely due to the pioneering work of Dr Swaminathan and MV Rao.
  • Swaminathan is remembered as the ‘father of Green Revolution’ and Rao as the “wheat man of India”.
  • Due to drought from 1964-70, India had to import food and became heavily dependent on the United States for wheat supplies under the Public Law 480 agreements.
  • Ultimately, the Green Revolution was initiated. The theme of the initiative was to boost food grains production of rice and wheat using any method and at any cost.

Need for Organic Farming in India:

  • The need for organic farming in India arises from the unsustainability of agriculture production and the damage caused to ecology through the conventional farming practices.
  • The present system of agriculture which we call 'conventional' and practiced the world over evolved in the western nations as a product of their socio-economic environment which promoted an overriding quest for accumulation of wealth.
  • This method of farming adopted by other countries is inherently self-destructive and unsustainable.
  • The unsustainability of Indian agriculture is caused by the modern farming methods which have badly affected/damaged production resources and the environment.

Measures to be taken:

  • Supply-demand mismatch can be eased fundamentally by making organic production  mainstream with  location-specific hybrid production  strategies
  • Investments in achieving operations excellence by companies will facilitate lowering the cost of organic food products
  • In order to sustain consumer trust, maintaining an accurate audit stream, and preventing cross-contamination with conventional goods would be crucial.
  • Consumers should consume responsibly and stakeholders should prevent wastage along the supply chain.
  • The Government must rope in agricultural scientists and international research institutions to develop organic herbicides.
  • It is critical for companies involved in the organic food  business to increase awareness among consumers  in non-metro  cities
  • People across all income groups should have access to organic food.
  • Establishing community-supported agricultural farms or with “grow your own food” programmes.
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