Agro-ecological farming & sustainable food production

The Malthusian concept of population growth putting pressure on finite natural resources and resulting in resource scarcity has been considered simplistic. As Thomas Malthus said, “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man”. In the contrary, a group of economists argue by saying, the high & increasing population would put pressure on food production and that would lead to more technological growths and agriculture intensification. This concept has led to innovation in the area of agriculture and over dependency on modern technology, giving birth to the great ‘green revolution’. Green revolution technology was exploited in many cases and focused very narrowly on the yields(& only economic aspect) and neglected environmental sustainability and other ecological factors. As a result, today, 2.6 billions of people have been affected by 2 billion hectares of land degradation caused by large-scale agricultural practice associated with green revolution. As we see today 70 % of freshwater withdrawal is for agriculture purpose. The aim for higher yield, misuse of fertilisers and pesticides has caused soil degradation, water pollution and has put unhealthy food on our plates. The food that we eat today is not only toxic but also costs us high in terms of natural resource degradation. Although the green revolution has contributed to the reduction of poverty in developing countries, the success is not evenly spread, as rich and large land holding farmers are benefited more whereas the conditions of poor remain unchanged.

At this juncture, the question is, is Agroecological practice, which is a sustainable or environment-friendly method of food production an answer? Agroecological practice is a process learnt from nature, which integrates crops and livestock with the natural environment. For example, crops such as maize, wheat, sorghum, millet and vegetables are being grown alongside trees such as Acacia, Sesbania, Gliricidia etc. These agro-forested trees provide shade, improve water availability, prevent soil erosion and add natural fertilisers to soils. If the approach is understood well and practiced can increase yield up to double or triple the time.

duck
http://practicalaction.org/

Another example of this concept is, using ducks instead of pesticides in rice cultivation. Ducks eat weeds, weed seeds, insects and other pests and at the same time their droppings provides nutrients to rice plants. It has been a success in some parts of Bangladesh as farmers have experienced 20 percent higher yield without the use of harmful fertilisers and pesticides.

Agriculture-interconnectedness
http://www.groundswellinternational.org/

Agroecological practices can be a promising way for sustainable food production. It can produce high yields with less natural resource degradation, protect the environment, promote social and economic development, therefore promoting sustainable development. However, it is complex and requires capacity building of farmers in understanding the whole process. But at the same time, it is also evident in many places that local farmers have a better understanding of local eco-system and with little scientific inputs they can take up this approach and succeed.

Agriculture intensification and industrialised agriculture have failed to keep their promise, rather than meeting the global need for food production, it has been costing us our future. On the other hand, Agro-ecological practice with behaviour change such as reducing the massive global food waste (roughly one-third of the total food produced) can meet the global need for food production.

Thank you

God Bless…

For more information: Assadourian, E., Prugh, T., Starke, L., Institute, W. and Institute, T.W. (2013) State of the world 2013: Is sustainability still possible?. Washington, DC [etc.]: Island Press.

5 thoughts on “Agro-ecological farming & sustainable food production

  1. Its a good and an ideal approach towards conservation of natural resources, sustainable food production and pushing towards organic farming but it doesnot really solve the malthusian concept. You see agroecological methods may intensify agricultural output and quality but the indefinite pressure of population explosion may never present this approach to be of benefit. With population increasing, the misuse of soil tends to happen. In order to avoid this the agricultural society needs to be educated on environmental issues which I believe will take some time in India. Since soil restoration takes more time after degradation, it will never satisfy an exploding population nor will the community wait since the economy needs to be maintained. Agricultural population needs to be spread out and proper management of narural resources need to be allocated. The pressure of agricultural society on a land needs to be spread on unutilised lands. Government needs to facilitate this. Development brings people to new areas and new areas yield more resources.

    Agroecology can be a solution where population vs nature is not so competitive. But for India my dear friend, I have come to know its all mismanagement of resources and its management. Malthus was right about the word ‘indefinitely’

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  2. Its a good and an ideal approach towards conservation of natural resources, sustainable food production and pushing towards organic farming but it doesnot really solve the malthusian concept. You see agroecological methods may intensify agricultural output and quality but the indefinite pressure of population explosion may never present this approach to be of benefit. With population increasing, the misuse of soil tends to happen. In order to avoid this the agricultural society needs to be educated on environmental issues which I believe will take some time in India. Since soil restoration takes more time after degradation, it will never satisfy an exploding population nor will the community wait since the economy needs to be maintained. Agricultural population needs to be spread out and proper management of narural resources need to be allocated. The pressure of agricultural society on a land needs to be spread on unutilised lands. Government needs to facilitate this. Development brings people to new areas and new areas yield more resources.

    Agroecology can be a solution where population vs nature is not so competitive. But for India my dear friend, I have come to know its all mismanagement of resources and its management. Malthus was right about the word ‘indefinitely’

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  3. Very true… Thanks for your thoughts.
    We can achieve food security even with our present population. it can be done very well.
    Actually, Malthus was not wrong but his concept didn’t consider other aspects. well, at that time he was very right but when we see today’s problem and analyse, it is not the population that is the root of the problem. Environmental problems are associated with political, justice, power and economical aspects such as distribution etc l. power plays a huge role. International capitalistic communities have been using these (Malthusian) concepts as a tool to put the blame on poor and populated countries that they are the one who degrades. If you see even in India food is an issue of unequal distribution. If there is intensified agriculture in rural areas, we also need to ask for whom it has been produced. is it not for export and for the people living in the cities? Apart from that, 33% of food is being wasted and that happens mainly among rich and well to do. If we stop that we can feed all the people along with sustainable agriculture. I agree that population is a matter of concern here but not the root. there are many other aspects attached to it.

    One person is consuming 99 other person’s resources and we say population is the problem. Tomorrow a rich person’s son will get married and luxury food will be served and tons will get wasted and we blame poor for degrading land in villages. Therefore, i say natural resource degradation is more of a political issue than demographic. we ned to analyse it further.

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  4. Yes exactly. Unequal distribution of resources. States need to collaborate on this. for eg. Now the SYI canal construction has been blocked by the punjab legislative assembly which will provide water to haryana and other interior parts on various political reasons. They aren’t looking beyon punjab, they aren’t looking towards national contribution. Distribution of population needs to happen which can be done politicaly. Agree it can be solved! When a nation starts adopting God’s principles consciously or unconsciously, it surely will… thanks for the post. It was very stimulating.. (since i have taken up geography as my subject currently hehe)

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