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Food Security

Despite high rates of economic growth, food security continues to be one of the most pressing challenges before India with one-fourth of the children being stunted in large states like Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, and over 40 percent of children are underweight in states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand. On the contrary, with increasing incomes, the rich and middle classes in urban areas are demanding a more diversified and protein-rich diet. As incomes continue to grow, this trend will continue and the indirect demand for food from the feed will grow rapidly in India.

But the question is “Will our country’s food production be able to meet the growing demands of its population?” since the current agrarian situation does not suggest so. Agricultural productivity in India is on a downward trend, and it’s not that we aren’t aware of the deep crisis that afflicts India’s agriculture sector.

Farming has become an unreliable occupation. About one-third of the Indian farmers do not consider farming as a viable occupation that can sustain them in the long run and 40 percent without batting an eyelid are willing to give up farming if they could find a better source of livelihood. The main reason behind the drastic increase in the number of farmer suicides in India is indebtedness with about 52 percent of the agricultural households in India being indebted with an outstanding loan amount of Rs 47000 per household.

Research on agrarian distress has shown that a combination of policy-induced, technological, and ecological factors are responsible for the crisis plaguing India’s agriculture sector. The deep crisis in India’s agriculture sector requires immediate measures, which need to first address the ecological crisis and the challenges that climate change poses for India’s long-term food security.

As a developing country with a growing population, which relies on rain-fed agriculture, India is particularly vulnerable to climate change. We are even feeling the impact of climate change through its impact on the country’s already stressed water resources and in significant changes in the inter-annual and inter-seasonal variability of the monsoon. Fluctuation in rainfall due to climate change is significantly impacting India’s already depleted groundwater resources. This gap between demand and supply of water will have far-reaching repercussions for the country’s foodgrain production.

Increased frequency of droughts is also having far-reaching consequences on foodgrain production, particularly Kharif output with rice found to be the most sensitive to extreme climate events.

Not only unaware, but India is also completely unprepared to tackle the impending crisis. India needs a systematic overhaul in its agriculture in view of the challenges that climate change poses and the country’s vulnerability. Sustainable agriculture is the need of the hour.

Here are some measures that are required to be taken for achieving food security for the growing population through higher food production:

Crop Diversification- Food availability is indispensable for food security. In view of the changes in consumption patterns, there has been an increase in demand for fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, and fishery products, which emphasizes the need to increase crop diversification and improve allied activities to produce such crops and produces in which we are deficient. It is high time farmers took up integrated farming systems, mixed crop-livestock farming in particular, and practiced intercropping wherein they should plant a short- and mid-term crop along with long-term crops, Melia Dubia for example, to get expected returns at regular intervals (2-4 months, 3-4 years and 7-8 years).

Dealing With Climate Change- To ensure national food security in light of mounting pressure from growing population, fragmented landholding, and adverse threats of climate change, one will have to pay higher attention to and work towards issues such as climate change, limiting global warming, including the promotion of climate-smart agricultural production systems and land use policies at a scale to help adapt and alleviate ill effects of climate change.

Integrated Water Management- Improved management of irrigation water is essential in enhancing production and productivity, food security and mitigating poverty, which can be achieved by adopting modern methods of irrigation like a sprinkler, drip irrigation, fertigation (the fertilizers are injected into the irrigation water), among other water-efficient tools that need to be adopted on a larger scale.

Integrated Nutrient Management- An equal amount of attention needs to be given to balanced use of nutrients. Phosphorus deficiency is the widest spread soil fertility problem, which can be overcome by improving the efficiency of fertilizer-use, which can be achieved through location-specific research on efficient fertilizer practices, improvement in soil testing services, and development of improved fertilizer supply and distribution systems.

Education and Guidance- SANF GREENMENS PVT LTD understands that there’s a need for farmers to seek information on a wide range of issues to acquire knowledge or upgrade their skills and entrepreneurial ability, so we provide our expertise to train farmers and guide them in the hope to contribute to literacy, which will be substantial on yield growth and domestic supply of food. We provide the required support to small and marginal farmers that they need not only to procure inputs but also to gain confidence, since in no way can we overlook their contribution to the national food production, which also meets a significant part of their food needs as well as their families.

Farmers’ food security is of utmost importance so that they no longer give up on farming and their children are encouraged and motivated to continue with farming by considering it to be a viable option for earning income and high-quality food for their whole family. It is just as important that farmers follow natural farming methods, which are chemical-free and more or less poison-free farming methods, and discourages farmers from using any chemical fertilizers, pesticides on plants, and in all agricultural practices. The foods procured out of natural farming techniques have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally-grown counterparts, which can keep everyone in the farmer’s family healthy (with no added costs), including keeping malnutrition at bay, and hence children will grow up to be healthy individuals, and we can rest easy that our country is in capable hands to take it forward.

When our farmers’ future is secure, our country is secure and we are secure.

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