Saturday, July 17, 2010

An Indian agricultural disaster in waiting?

Interesting commentary by Bimal Prasad Pandia in (India): Orissa faces a bland situation with regard to agriculture – the sector that provides livelihoods to more than three-fourth of its population. All this has been the outcome of a one-dimensional approach – i.e. of increasing production - that the government is following since the ‘green revolution’. The idea has been to boost production significantly. For that a significant reliance has been put on sharp increase is use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides; hybrid/high-yielding varieties of seeds; very heavy influx of money supply through loans; and use of modern gadgets and implements.

…Climate change – with its inherent risk and unpredictability factors – is adding woes to the injuries. The end result is that with decreasing profit, farming is becoming an un-enviable business. People are shying away from farming. Farm sector is losing social standing. This is a big threat as we people can hardly survive growing disinterest among farmers towards farming. Who can live without food? But the government’s approaches hardly look the challenge that way. Rather it is leading towards a grave danger of food insecurity.

…As the cost of production keeps on piling, the government does its best to pump in more credits more loans and make the farmer’s debt burden increasingly heavier. And it is making the burden so heavier that a farmer can never ever be able to recover from that. Government’s plan for the present agricultural seasons is nothing but a Pandora’s Box.

….Ironically, our government and a majority of modern agricultural scientists and ruefully some of our farmers, whom the government categorizes as lead farmers, do believe in this kind of a farming system. No thought goes to the profitability and sustainability aspect of farming. More money is pumped into the system, more fertiliser applied, more expensive practice adopted. Sometimes production increases, but often not. Even when production increases still that falls short of expenditure. An invariably it degrades bearing quality of land, our mother earth….

The Mahanadi River in Orissa, view by satellite

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