KATHMANDU, Nepal, April 4 (IPS) – India began its journey to become an independent nation in 1947 with a fresh memory of the 1943 Bengal Famine that claimed the lives of 1.5 to 3 million people. In this context, the First Five-Year Plan (1951-56) prioritized agriculture, however, in the Second Plan there was a strong shift to industrialization.
The mid-1960s were a difficult time as successive droughts affected food production and India had to import about 11 million tonnes (MMT) of wheat per year – about 15% of food grain production in the past year. country – under American Public Law 480.
With the availability of high yielding wheat and rice seeds coupled with the increasing use of chemical fertilizers, providing a minimum support price (MSP) for rice and wheat, expanding the area Irrigation and the gradual mechanization of farms, fortunately, the Indian agricultural system took a definite positive turn in the late 1960s.
As a result, India has become the largest producer of milk (187.7 million bales in 2019-20) and cotton (37.5 million bales in 2019-20) and a major producer of rice. Monday (117.5 MMT in 2019-20) and wheat (106.2 MMT in 2019-20), fruit (97.97 MMT in 2018-19) and vegetables (183.17 MMT in 2018-19). India today is not only self-sufficient in food but also a net exporter of agricultural products. In short, the success of Indian agriculture over the past six decades has been no less spectacular.
However, success comes with significant costs. The resource enhancement required by the Green Revolution has adversely affected resources and the environment.
India pumped 245 million cubic meters – about 25% of all groundwater withdrawn globally – for irrigation in 2011. As a result, groundwater in 1,034 cubic meters (16% of the total) is over-exploited. Worse yet, the groundwater level has become critical at 4% and near-critical at 10% of the blocks.
Similarly, about 37% of the country’s land area (120.4 million ha) is affected by different types of land degradation. The inappropriate use of fertilizers caused by the subsidy policy has resulted in soil chemical and water pollution by leaching and runoff. Despite an abundant food supply, by 2020, 41.7% of children under 5 years of age will be stunted.
India is home to 208.6 million – or more than a quarter – of the world’s undernourished people. Other challenges facing Indian agriculture today include uneven growth in the region, increasing fiscal constraints, difficult and unsustainable levels of subsidies, small holdings and the further fragmentation of ownership and land tenure issues, and low resource efficiency, especially water. These factors act as serious obstacles to sustainable agricultural growth and farmers’ livelihoods.
Amid the success and emerging challenges of NITI Aayog, the Government of India’s senior public policy institute and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) decided to facilitate a national dialogue. between key stakeholders including government agencies, academia, civil society organizations, farmers, the private sector, international organizations, the media and other organizations to outlining the vision for 2030 and the roadmaps for agricultural improvement in India.
To achieve this goal, 10 thematic papers were commissioned from outstanding experts. A three-day national dialogue titled, ‘Indian Agriculture Towards 2030: Pathways to Raising Farmers’ Incomes, Nutritional Security, and Sustainable Food and Agriculture Systems’ to be held in January 2021. NITI Aayog and FAO have now launched a publication with the same title (Chand, R., Joshi, P, and Khadka, S., Editors (2022), Springer).
In addition to the challenges listed above, the book addresses the issues of climate change and its impact on agricultural production and farmers’ incomes and strategies for mitigating that change. change that; increasing rates of pests, pandemics, transboundary diseases and threats to biosecurity affecting agricultural production; and alternative farming systems for modified and sustainable agronomy and biodiversity futures.
The role of science, technology and innovation has been identified as key to sustainable and resilient agriculture. Similarly, the role of structural and governance reform is discussed in detail and the role of price policy, market and institutional reform is being emphasized for an efficient, inclusive and sustainable agriculture. steady.
The National Dialogue has identified transformational pathways with a focus on improving Indian agriculture in ways that More productive, efficient, resilient, resource-conserving, nutrition-centric and globally focused. These transformational results should be achieved by focusing on the following avenues:
- Increase investment in agriculture, first to reverse the decline and then achieve ‘efficient’ growth instead of pure growth, increase adoption of innovative technology, reorient science, agricultural technology and innovation, adoption of digital solutions and artificial intelligence, better use of information and communication technology, application of One Health concept;
- Make Indian agriculture a global focus, shift focus from subsistence to value adding through increased processing and high export growth
- Improve efficiency in the use of water and other resources, mainly by correcting distorted water pricing, adopting water-saving technologies and agro-ecological approaches, changing growing patterns cultivate and reverse the neglect of waterlogged areas;
- Make agriculture more climate resilient, by adopting a few technological and institutional choices that don’t regret it and by doing more targeted research using big data analytics and apply science-based approaches and green growth;
- Addressing nutrition and food safety, by diversifying diets, reducing post-harvest losses, promoting biological work, empowering women, enforcing food safety standards , improve water sanitation and raise awareness of food safety and nutrition education;
- A strong focus on innovations, incentives and institutions that contribute to increased productivity, increased resilience to climate change, promotion of water and energy savings, and by adopting a legal environment more favorable management such as groundwater extraction; and
- Through appropriate policies and improved governance such as by reducing distortions caused by SWs, accelerating rural infrastructure creation, ensuring greater participation of state governments, strengthening access to credit and extension services as well as extension of contract farming.
As emphasized by M. Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India in his preface, the books ‘provide a good basis for reflection as they conjure important lessons and present a wide range of approaches. policy options for the government to choose’.
Shyam Khadka is a former senior official of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, has served as its representative to India (2015-18) and is a Senior Portfolio Manager of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (1997-1997). 2014). As an international development specialist, Khadka works on policies, programs and projects to develop agriculture, ensure food security and reduce poverty globally.
IPS UN Office
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