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Sustainable Agrifood System
Tag: GS-3 Environment
Recently The Indian government recently inaugurated the 16th Agricultural Science Congress (ASC) in Kochi, Kerala, with the goal of promoting sustainability in the agri-food system.
Agricultural Science Congress is a meeting for experts in the agricultural field to discuss important issues and advancements in agriculture and related sciences. It is organized by NAAS, a prestigious organization in India that promotes agricultural science and research.
About Sustainable Agrifood System
Sustainable agri-food systems are a way of producing, distributing, consuming, and managing food that is good for the environment, society, and the economy.
Sustainable agri-food systems aim to:
- Meet Current Needs
- Ensure long-term sustainability
- Improve livelihoods
- Promote social well-being
- Minimize negative impacts on the environment
Global agri-food systems are responsible for a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2020, they emitted 16 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, an increase of 9% since 2000.
Examples of sustainable agri-food practices:
- Growing crops without using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers
- Raising livestock in a way that is good for the animals and the environment
- Reducing food waste
- Eating a more plant-based diet
Why it is important to adopt sustainability in agri-food systems?
- Rising demand for food: The global population is growing, and with it, the demand for food. Sustainable agri-food systems are essential to ensure that we can produce enough food to feed everyone, without harming the environment.
- Environmental degradation: Unsustainable agricultural practices have caused widespread environmental damage, such as soil erosion, water pollution, and biodiversity loss. Sustainable agri-food systems can help to reverse this damage and protect the environment for future generations.
- Climate change challenges: Climate change is a major threat to agriculture. Sustainable practices can help farmers to adapt to climate change and reduce the sector’s contribution to climate change.
India has a number of sustainable and climate-resistant agricultural practices that are recognized by the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) program. Some examples include:
- Pokkali rice: Pokkali rice is a variety of rice that is grown in tidal wetlands in Kerala, India. It is a salt-tolerant crop that can be grown in areas that are affected by sea level rise and saltwater intrusion.
- Kuttanad below Sea Level Farming System: The Kuttanad below Sea Level Farming System is a unique system of agriculture that is practiced in the Kuttanad region of Kerala, India. The region is below sea level, and farmers use a system of canals and dikes to control the water levels. This system allows farmers to grow crops such as rice, vegetables, and coconuts in an area that would otherwise be unusable for agriculture.
Ways to adopt sustainability in Agri-Food Systems?
There are a number of ways to adopt sustainability in agri-food systems, including:
- Technological interventions: Scientific innovations and advanced technologies can help farmers to use resources more efficiently and reduce their negative environmental impact. For example, precision agriculture technologies can help farmers to apply fertilizers and pesticides more precisely, and smart irrigation systems can help farmers to use water more efficiently.
- Advanced Biotechnology and other modern technologies: Genome editing and other modern technologies can be used to develop new crop varieties that are more resistant to pests and diseases, more tolerant to drought and other climate stresses, and more nutritious. This can help farmers to reduce their reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and to produce more food on less land.
- Low carbon and carbon neutral agricultural practices: Farmers can adopt a number of carbon-neutral agricultural practices to mitigate climate impacts and promote environmental sustainability. For example, they can plant cover crops, which help to improve soil health and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. They can also use manure management practices that reduce methane emissions.
some specific examples of sustainable agri-food practices:
- Crop rotation: Rotating crops helps to improve soil health and reduce the need for pesticides.
- Cover cropping: Cover crops help to improve soil health, reduce erosion, and suppress weeds.
- Integrated pest management (IPM): IPM is a holistic approach to pest management that uses a variety of methods to control pests, including biological control, cultural practices, and pesticides.
- Agroforestry: Agroforestry is the practice of integrating trees and shrubs into agricultural production systems. This can help to improve soil health, reduce erosion, and provide habitat for beneficial insects.
- Organic farming: Organic farming is a system of agriculture that avoids the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Challenges to Adopting Sustainable Agri-Food Systems
|Challenges||How they Impact Consumers and Farmers|
|According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted each year. This food waste occurs at all stages of the food supply chain, from production to processing to distribution to consumption.||Food waste and loss can lead to higher food prices and food insecurity. It can also have a negative impact on the environment, as wasted food decomposes and releases methane, a greenhouse gas|
|Agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and soil degradation. For example, agriculture accounts for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.||Climate change can make it more difficult for farmers to produce crops. For example, droughts and floods can damage crops and reduce yields. Climate change can also lead to the spread of pests and diseases.|
|Agriculture is a major user of water, land, and energy. These resources are becoming increasingly scarce due to population growth, climate change, and other factors.||Resource scarcity can make it more expensive for farmers to produce crops. For example, if water becomes scarce, farmers may have to pay more for irrigation|
|Modern agricultural practices, such as monoculture and the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, can lead to biodiversity loss. Biodiversity is essential for healthy ecosystems, which provide important services such as pollination, pest control, and water purification.||Biodiversity loss can make it more difficult for farmers to control pests and diseases. It can also reduce the nutritional value of crops|
|Monoculture, or the practice of growing only one crop in a field, can make the food supply more vulnerable to pests, diseases, and extreme weather events. Crop diversity is essential for a resilient and sustainable food system||Monoculture can lead to crop failures, which can impact food prices and food security. Crop diversity can help to reduce the risk of crop failures and make the food supply more resilient|
Government initiatives to promote agri-food systems in India:
- Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF): The AIF is a Rs. 1 lakh crore fund that was launched in 2020 to provide financial assistance for the development of agricultural infrastructure, such as post-harvest management facilities, cold storage, and irrigation facilities.
- Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN): The PM-KISAN scheme is a direct income support scheme that provides Rs. 6,000 per year to all eligible farmer families.
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY): The PMKSY scheme aims to improve access to irrigation for farmers. It has two components: the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana – Per Drop More Crop (PMKSY-PDMC).
- National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): The NMSA aims to promote sustainable agriculture practices in India. It has four components: soil health management, water conservation, integrated pest management, and climate change adaptation.
- Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH): The MIDH scheme aims to promote the development of the horticulture sector in India. It has four components: production, protection, post-harvest management, and marketing.
In addition to these schemes, the government also provides a number of other subsidies and incentives to farmers to promote sustainable agriculture practices. For example, the government provides subsidies for the purchase of organic fertilizers and pesticides.
|UPSC CSE Previous Year Question (PYQ) |
Q1. What are the significances of a practical approach to sugarcane production known as ‘Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative’?
Seed cost is very low in this compared to the conventional method of cultivation.
Drip irrigation can be practiced very effectively in this.
There is no application of chemical/inorganic fertilizers at all in this.
The scope for intercropping is more in this compared to the conventional method of cultivation.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 and 3 only
(b) 1, 2 and 4 only
(c) 2, 3 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
Q. How far is Integrated Farming System helpful in sustaining agricultural production?
Q. What are the reformative steps taken by the Government to make the food grain distribution system more effective?
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