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World has to double food production by 2050 to feed teeming billions

21 Apr 2017

Indian agriculture has the wherewithal to overcome problems of climate change and take the path of sustainable and climate-smart agriculture (CSA) by using mitigation techniques and adapting technology and new crop patterns, said Shyam Khadka, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative in India, at a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).”

MUMBAI: Indian agriculture has the wherewithal to overcome problems of climate change and take the path of sustainable and climate-smart agriculture (CSA) by using mitigation techniques and adapting technology and new crop patterns, said Shyam Khadka, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative in India, at a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).”

“The good news for India is that it has well-developed agriculture systems. Besides, it has several agricultural universities.  Even private parties are entering agricultural research. Put together they not only have agricultural research systems, but capacity to do the research. It has produced results since 1960s, taking food production up 5 times by now,” said Mr Khadka at the Conference on Sustainable and CSA.

While stating that India’s numerous agro-climatic conditions pose a challenge to its manoeuvrability in the wake of climate change, Mr Khadka said that India has already identified the direction it has to take in terms of crop shifting, citing ‘Go East’ policy announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Drawing example from sugarcane cultivation in Maharashtra, Mr Khadka said that water-intensive crop was not suitable for water-starved Maharashtra, but was suitable to states in the Gangetic plains like Bihar and Brahmaputra- irrigated Assam. “Eventually it has to be realised that there are underused resources there and over-extraction of resources here (in Maharashtra),” FAO Representative in India added.

“As a country, policy directions are there for India. The Hon’ble Prime Minister has talked about the ‘Go East’ policy. That means the focus will be on Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Assam and Odisha. It is just that it has to be implemented on the ground,” Mr Khadka explained.

Developed by FAO of the United Nations, the concept of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an approach that helps to guide actions needed to transform and reorient agriculture systems to effectively support development and ensure food security in the changing ecosystem. Though climate change has been happening for several millenniums, the pace of change at 10 times that of the past, is worrying the environmentalists and agricultural economists alike.

Mr Khadka said that, the 5th IPCC report shows that under the greater stress of climate change both food production in quantity and quality will be seriously negatively impacted. Climate Change will multiply the threats to food production and in this context, CSA is making agriculture sustainable taking climate change into account.

Highlighting worsening of water scarcity in the recent years, Khadka cited the case of agricultural state of Punjab. Punjab is guzzling 6 billion cubic meters of water a year, taking the ground water levels from 125 feet to over 400 feet at present. Centrifugal pumps have become obsolete and only submersible pumps can come to the rescue, now.

Some states have already initiated remedial measures. Through its integrated water and soil management scheme called ‘Jalyukta Shivar’, Maharashtra has decided to bring out 25,000 villages out of water scarcity. Already work in 5,018 villages is completed, making them water neutral.

Mr Shankar Venkateswaran, Conference Chairman and Chief – Tata Sustainability Group, Tata Sons Ltd, said that the time has come for the idea of ‘Eat right and manage food waste’ to manage global food supplies better. Stating that the world population will rise to 9 billion by 2050, from 7 billion at present, Mr Venkateswaran said that this will double the food supply needs, if the available food is not managed properly.

Mr Ninad Karpe, Chairman CII Western Region and Director, Aptech Ltd, said that in line with the Government’s vision of “Doubling farm income by 2022”, CII has formed the CII National Council on Agriculture. It has identified four areas of focus – Resolving policy issues, upgrading technology quotient in agriculture, imparting specific skill sets to agricultural workforce and ensuring long term sustainability of agriculture ecosystem.

Photo Caption: Ninad Karpe,Chairman - CII Western Region,  Shankar Venkateswaran, Chief – Tata Sustainability Group, Tata Sons Limited, Dr Saugat Mukherjee, CII Regional Director, Shyam Khadka, FAO Representative in India addressing at CII Conference on “Sustainable and Climate Smart Agriculture”

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