Print Edition - 2017-03-24 | MONEY
Sustainable farming practices stressed to save resources
Mar 24, 2017-
The farm sector must pursue sustainable agricultural production practices instead of high-input or resource-intensive systems to conserve natural resources and mitigate the impacts of climate change, experts said Thursday.
Speaking at a workshop entitled ‘Strengthening the Role of Saarc in the Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture in South Asia’, they said that today’s agriculture should adapt itself not only to achieving food security but also managing resources in the face of global challenges such as climate change.
“It has now become evident that we are unable to produce enough food by using more resources. Hence, we should think of boosting agricultural productivity in a sustainable way,” said agro expert Hari Dahal. “Greater emphasis should be placed on the social and environmental dimensions of sustainability.”
He said that land and soil degradation, shrinking water sources, impacts of pesticide use, intensity of fertilizer consumption, loss of crops and low investment in agriculture are the key challenges that need urgent attention.
Hence, sustainable ‘intensification of agriculture’ would be the proper answer to these challenges, he said, adding that intensification means increasing the efficiency of input use—more crops per kilogram of nutrient and per drop of water.
South Asia is home to the largest number of hungry people who live below the poverty line, and the region is projected to be the worst affected by climate change, Dahal said. There is a need to double food production by 2050 without harming the environment and natural resources.
According to reports, 25 percent of the crop and pasture areas have been degraded by water erosion in South Asia. The soil has suffered from nutrient loss. The per capita availability of water has been rapidly decreasing worldwide. South Asia has only about 4.5 percent of the world’s renewable water.
Likewise, pesticide use in South Asia has been rising and increasing environment pollution. The chemical fertilizer consumption intensity is another glaring
problem in the region. According to Dahal, South Asia is the second largest fertilizer consuming region in the world.
“All these indicators suggest that South Asian agriculture has achieved major improvements in productivity in the past several years, but progress has been uneven regarding the social and environmental dimensions of sustainability.”
Tayan Gurung, senior programme specialist at the Saarc Agriculture Centre, Dhaka, underscored the need for scientific innovation in agriculture along with policy reform. He urged the governments of South Asian countries to play their part by supporting innovation and increasing investment.
“When it comes to forest, no chapters in the world open without the example of the successful modality of community forestry adopted by Nepal,” he said. “It’s an idea and innovation that we need to think for the sustainable future of farming.”
The two-day workshop has been organized by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) together with IFAD Asia and the Pacific Region and the Saarc Secretariat.
Published: 24-03-2017 10:43