Home / India News / Coronavirus has led to more thrust on agroecology, natural farming: Niti Aayog
With people looking for healthy food to boost their immunity in the situation created by Covid-19, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar has said that demand for “nutritious and chemical-free food” is going up exponentially in the world and agroecology is the only option to save the planet.
Kumar said Niti Aayog recently organised an online high-level round table where international experts from countries like US, Australia, Germany, UK, Netherlands and officials from the United Nations acknowledged India’s pioneering leadership in agroecology, an integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems.
He said “agroecology is the only option to save the planet”, is in line with Indian traditions and it is not man versus nature but the man in nature or man with nature.
“Humans need to realize their responsibility in protecting other species and nature. We need knowledge-intensive agriculture and the metrics need to be redefined where production is not the only criteria for good performance. It has to include the entire landscape and positive and negative externalities that are generated by alternate forms of agriculture practices,” Kumar told ANI.
He said that in the international round table experts from 12 countries participated and they said that agriculture now “needs to be converted into climate-friendly agriculture which will make sure that your environment will improve and also the quality of your land which is becoming hugely affected by the extensive use of chemicals and pesticides.”
The essential point is that we need to increase the organic carbon content in the soil and trigger the microbial activity in the soil which will make the soil healthy again.
He said that the use of water can be reduced to a tenth of the current usage.
“Ninety-two per cent of water today is used up in agriculture and we can reduce that and our country will no longer water-stressed. The best thing that we call Indian natural and traditional farming is what Subhash Palekar is doing from the last 20 years all over the country. The best thing about this is the productivity of the land does not decline. The yields remain the same as in the previous times but the cost of production goes down so the farmers’ income rises immediately,” Kumar said.
The NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman said that close to 30 lakh farmers in India are already practising this very successfully and there is a need to scale it further.
“In states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh this is being practised already quite widely. It has proven its benefit on the ground. Now is the time that we should scale it and make it reach 16 crore farmers from the existing 30 lakhs. The whole world is trying to move away from chemical farming. Now is the time to make Indian farmers aware of its potential,” Kumar said.
According to FAO, agroecology seeks to optimize the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system.