Sustainable Agriculture

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Introduction

Agriculture has been the base of subsistence for human settlements on the planet Earth. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), people in “the developing world where the population increase is very rapid may face hunger if the global food production does not increase by 50-60%. Contribution from developing countries and developed countries to world production in I975 was about 38% and 62% respectively. If yield increase is keeping pace with increasing population, mass hunger can escape. In the pre-independence period, Indian agriculture was usually described as a gamble with monsoons and their failures resulted in widespread famine and misery. In last few decades, Indian agriculture has made a remarkable progress even with increased population and decreased per capita availability of agricultural land. World population is projected to be over 8 billion by 2025 and nearly 10.5 billion by the end of next century. To maintain the status quo, food production needs to be doubled. Estimates by the FAO and WHO (I992) and the Hunger Project (1991) suggest that around 1 billion people in the world have diets that are ‘too poor to abstain the energy required for healthy growth of children and minimal activity of adults’. The causes are complex and it is not entirely the fault of the overall availability of food. Modern agriculture begins on the research farm, where researchers have access to all types of inputs for crops at all the appropriate times. But even the best performing farms cannot match the yields of researchers. For high productivity, farmers need to have access to the whole package improved seeds, water, labour, capital or credit, fertilisers, pesticides and other developed technology. Many poorer farming households simply cannot adopt the whole package. Very often delivery systems are unable to supply them On time. In December I983. the UN General Assembly established the World Commission

In December I983, the UN General Assembly established the World Commission on Environment and Development. In 1987, on 27th of April at the queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the Prime Minister of Norway, Mrs. Brundtland, who was also the Chairman of the World Commission on Environment and Development, released the publication of ‘Our Common Future’ by the World Commission on Environment and Development and said: ‘ Securing  our common future will require new energy and openness, fresh insights, and an ability to look beyond the narrow bounds of national frontiers and separate Scientific disciplines. The young are better at such vision than we who are too often constrained by the traditions of former, more fragmented world. We must tap their energy and their openness, their ability to see the interdependence of issues..”. She suggested that we must adopt a new paradigm based on a completely new value system.  “Our generation has too often been willing to use the resources of the future to meet our own short term goals. It is a debt we can never repay. If we fail to change our ways, these young men and women will suffer more than we, and they and their children will be denied their fundamental right to a healthy productive, life-enhancing environment.” Her speech made it clear that we are consuming resources, which must be transferred to the next generation. We must recognise that, because resources are limited, we need a sustainable way of life. Almost at the same time, the realisation of prime Importance of staple food production for achieving food security for future generation has brought the concept of “Sustainable Agriculture” to the forefront and began to take shape in the following three points.

  1. The interrelatedness of all the farming systems including the farmer and the family.
  2. The importance of many biological balances in the system.
  3. The need to maximise desired biological relationships in the system and minimises the use of materials and practices that disrupt these relations. Sustainability of agricultural systems has become a global concern today and many definitions so Sustainable Agriculture has become available.

Definition of Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture has been defined in many ways by different workers. Some of the definitions are given below:

It is the successful management of resources for agriculture to satisfy changing human needs while maintaining or enhancing the quality of the environment and conserving natural resources.

A sustainable agriculture is a system of agriculture that is committed to maintain and preserve the agriculture base of soil, water, and atmosphere ensuring future generations the capacity to feed themselves with an adequate supply of safe a wholesome food’.

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