Introduction to Sustainability in Agriculture
‘Sustainability’ as a concept has been around for more than two decades. The UN has defined goals around sustainability aimed at the sustenance of both current and future generations. Agriculture is a very important sector requiring transformation towards sustainability, as currently, it is a sector that will undoubtedly impact the looming food and climate crises. Sustainability in agriculture is not just limited to the farm, but can have an impact at a systems level where all value chain processes aim towards becoming more sustainable.
Sustainable Practices in Indian Agriculture
India is also witnessing the emergence of many eco-friendly practices on and beyond farms. Many traditional practices like organic and natural farming are being adopted increasingly among small and marginal farmers, who make up most of the Indian farmer profile. The use of innovative and modern solutions, like precision farming through remote sensing technologies like GPS, is also on the rise. In the last four to five years there has been rapid adoption of practices like integrated pest management, rice intensification systems, hydroponics and aquaponics.
Challenges in Scaling up Sustainable Practices in Indian Agriculture
However, there are still lots of challenges to driving sustainable practices on Indian farms at scale. Unfortunately, most farmers are poor and lack the relevant knowledge, capacity, financial resources and incentives, hindering progress towards sustainability. Apart from that, there is low R&D spending on sustainable activities and a lack of harmonised green finance taxonomy to enable feasible adoption.
Solutions to Scale up Sustainable Agriculture in India
Four solutions to address existing challenges, and enable entire value chains to make agriculture more sustainable are:
- Strengthening capacity building and knowledge
- Boosting financial incentives
- Developing a climate imperative
- Increasing the role of technology
Driving Agricultural Sustainability at Scale through Effective Collaborations
Governments, businesses, corporates and global philanthropy, along with non-profits and other development organisations at both a global as well as local levels, need to collaborate and combine their priority areas for interventions that lead to holistic impact within agricultural systems. Progress towards achieving sustainability is only possible when synergies are identified and utilised effectively.
Authors: Ayushi Baloni and Ashutosh Choudhary
Technical Review: Debaranjan Pujahari