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Thursday, January 28, 2010

What is Sustanable Agriculture?

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The first of the couple of words ‘sustainable agriculture’ – sustainable, has the base as Sustain which has been derived from Latin word sustinere (sus-, from below and tenere, to hold), to keep in existence or to maintain, implies long term support or permanence. When it pertains to agriculture, it describes farming systems that are capable of maintaining their productivity and usefulness to society, indefinitely. Thus a Sustainable Agriculture System must be a system which conserves resources, supports social structure, stands in commercial competition, and supports the original make up and processes of the natural environment.

an integrated system of plant and animal producing practices specific to a particular area, site or place.

Thus, the term Sustainable Agriculture means – an integrated system of plant and animal producing practices specific to a particular area, site or place. Over the long term, a Sustainable Agriculture System is expected to –Satisfy human needs of food and fiber; Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource- base upon which the agricultural economy depends; Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources; and integrate where appropriate, natural biological cycles and natural controls; Sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole; Ensure equitable distribution of resources etc.

In order to ensure sustainability of Indian Agriculture –The National Policy on Agriculture gives special emphasis on following facts –utilization of vast and untapped growth potential of Indian Agriculture; strengthening the rural infrastructure to support fast agricultural development; promotion of value addition and to accelerate the growth of agriculture based business; creation of employment in rural areas; securing a fair standard of living for the farmers and agricultural workers including their families; discouraging migration to urban areas; and facing the challenges arising out of the Economic Liberalization and Globalization.

According to India’s Agricultural Policy–The Agriculture which is based on “technically sound, economically viable, environmentally non-degrading and socially acceptable use of natural resources – land, water and genetic endowment” etc. is called as Sustainable Agriculture.
In other words – farming systems and practices that maintain or enhance the economic viability of agricultural production, the natural resource base, and other systems which are influenced by agricultural activities, may be called as Sustainable Agriculture.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation-“The successful management of resources for agriculture to satisfy changing human needs, while maintaining or enhancing the quality of environment and conserving natural resources” is called as sustainable agriculture (FAO, TAC/CG/AR, 1989).

On another place, FAO has explained – A sustainable Agriculture System is one which involves the management and conservation of the natural resource base, and the orientation of the natural resource base, and the orientation of technological and institutional change in such a manner as to ensure the attainment and continual satisfaction of human needs for the present and future generations. Such a sustainable development conserves law, water, plant and animal genetic resources, and is economically viable and socially acceptable (FAO, 1991).
Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals:Environmental Stewardship, Farm Profitability, and Prosperous Farming Communities. These goals have been defined by a variety of disciplines and may be looked at from the vantage point of the farmer or the consumer.

Sustainable Agriculture as per the Indian Agricultural Policy
According to the Policy Document of Indian Agriculture Policy, Agriculture in India is a way of life, a tradition, which, for centuries, has shaped the thought, the outlook, the culture and economic life of Indians. Therefore agriculture in India is central to all strategies for its planned socio-economic development. A fast agricultural growth is essential in order to achieve self-reliance, household food security; and in order to bring about equity in distribution of income and wealth that may result into a fast reduction in poverty levels.

For Agriculture, to be made Sustainable, the Indian National Agriculture Policy has fixed following aims to achieve within a period of twenty years-
o A Growth Rate in Excess of 4 percent per year in the agriculture sector;
o The growth in agriculture should be based on efficient use of resources and conservation of soil, water and biodiversity;
o Agricultural growth must be equitable i.e. it must be widespread across regions and farmers;
o The agricultural growth should be demand-driven growth, and it should cater to domestic markets and should maximise benefits from export of agricultural products in the face of challenges arising from economic liberalization and globalization;
o The agricultural growth should be technologically, environmentally and economically sustainable.

Under the programme of Sustainable Agriculture, the Government of India, accords abiding importance for improving the quality of country’s land and soil resources through a number of national programmes. The Government is inclined to promote the rational utilization and conservation of its water resources, and to offer highest priority to the conjunctive use of surface and ground water. According to the policy, the use of biotechnology will be promoted for evolving plants that consume less water, are drought resistant, pest resistant, contain more nutrition, give higher yields and are safe in view of environment. High priority to the sensitization of the farming community with the environmental concern is to be given Balanced and conjunctive use of bio-mass,, organic and inorganic fertilizers and controlled use of other agro-chemicals through integrated nutrient and pest-management is to be promoted to achieve the sustainable increases in agricultural production.

The traditional knowledge of agriculture enshrined in tribal communities and also in other communities is to be explored, encouraged and developed through various methods. The agriculture is to be protected from natural calamities and preventive efforts are to be made through the application of remote sensing technologies in different aspects of agriculture.

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