Sustainable Agriculture: Way of Raising Healthy Food Production -Nazmunnaher Nipa
World agriculture will undergo a far-reaching economic and physical change in the coming 50 years. Population increase, urbanization and income growth will drive the demand for food while high energy prices, stress on natural resources, and climate change may act to constrain supply. To feed the world’s growing population projected to exceed 9 billion in 2050 (UN, 2009). It will be necessary to boost the production of food and to do so sustainably.
Bangladesh’s agricultural sector has achieved significant structural changes over the past three and half decades. Despite many problems and constraints, a quiet agricultural revolution has taken place which is still evolving in response to natural calamities, sociopolitical changes, population growth, urbanization, new technology in agriculture and new opportunities in the rural nonagricultural sector, commercialization and changes in macro policy and sector policy reforms including market.
There was significant growth in agriculture infrastructure as well as a shift towards liberalization from government control. Total rice production in 1971 was 10 million tons; in 2008-2009, it was 31.50 million tons (BER, 2009). The net result is that the country has gone from a situation of chronic deficit to near self-sufficiency. Cropping intensity increased from 181% in 2008-2009 (BBS, 2008).
Sustainable agriculture is the production of agricultural goods, necessary to satisfy the needs of present and future generations, to protect the components of natural factors, like water, air and soil. Technologies and production approaches that meet ecological, environmental development requirements are being used for sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture requires the prevention of ecological crises, like major accidents, with a strong negative impact on the environment.
Sustainable agriculture is a way of raising food production that is healthy for men and animals, does not harm the environment, is humanitarian for workers, respects animals, and provides a fair wage to the farmer. Some of the considerations are the following for sustainability:
Conservation and preservation
Output of the environment is put back in, so land and resources such as water, soil and air can be replenished and are available to future generations. The waste from sustainable farming stays within the farm’s ecosystem and cannot cause buildup or pollution.
Farms raise different types of plants and animals, which are rotated around the fields to enrich the soil and help prevent disease and pest outbreaks. Chemical pesticides are using minimally and only when necessary but sustainable farms do not use any form of chemicals.
Farmers are paid a fair wage and are not dependent on subsidies from the government. Sustainable farmers help strengthen rural communities.
Workers are treated fairly and paid competitive wages and benefits. They work in a safe environment and are offered proper living conditions and food.
Increased productivity to feed the people with minimal environmental hazards.
Crucial goals of Sustainable Agriculture:
Sustainable agriculture integrates four main goals:
2. Environmental stability,
3. Economic profitability, and
4. Social and economic equity.
One most significant components of agricultural sustainability are productivity. It is related to judicial use of soil, water, propagation materials, labours, fertilizers and cost. Second, the interpretation of sustainable agriculture focuses on types of technology in a particular setting, especial strategies that reduce reliance on non-renewable or environmentally harmful inputs.
Technology Extension for Sustainable Agriculture in Bangladesh:
Bangladesh is now threatened by increasing droughts, flooding and extreme weather events due to climate change. In response, rural communities are adapting through innovative, localized solutions that combine sustainable practices and technologies. For increasing, crop production, as well as sustainable agriculture, need to utilize technologies. Some technologies which are significant for sustainable agricultural development in Bangladesh, Use of machines on farms, Axial flow pump, Reapers, Seed fertilizer drills, Irrigate via smartphone and Genetically produced plants.
Strategies of Sustainable Agriculture in Bangladesh:
The strategies are grouped according to three separate areas of concern:
l Management of Natural Resources,
l Production Practices (crops, livestock and fisheries), and
l The Economic, Social and Political Context.
Management of natural resources:
Agriculture is the most significant user of natural resources like soil, water, air and energy, and its sustainability depends upon its availability.
Water is the principal resource that has helped agriculture and society to prosper, and it has been a major limiting factor when mismanaged. There are no proper guidelines and management actions of water use in agriculture. But water supply and use are essential in sustainable agriculture in both wet and dry seasons. We can practice some actions in sustainable agriculture- Improving water conservation and storage, providing incentives for selection of drought-tolerant crop species, increasing water use efficiency, and managing crops to reduce water loss, or not planting at all.
Modern agriculture is heavily dependent on non-renewable energy sources, especially fossil fuels. The continued use of these energy sources cannot be sustained indefinitely, yet to abruptly abandon our reliance on them would be economically catastrophic.
Sustainable production practices involve a variety of approaches such as topography, soil characteristics, climate, pests, local availability of inputs and the individual grower’s goals. Despite the site-specific and individual nature of sustainable agriculture, several general principles can be applied to help growers selecting appropriate management practices:
Selection of species and varieties that is well suited to the site and conditions on the farm,
Intensification and diversification of crops (including livestock and fisheries) and cultural practices to enhance the biological and economic sustainability of the farm,
Proper agronomic management, efficient use of inputs.
The economic, social & political context:
In addition to strategies for preserving natural resources and changing production practices, sustainable agriculture requires a commitment to changing public policies, economic institutions, and social values. Strategies for change must take into account the complex, reciprocal and ever-changing relationship between agricultural production and the broader society.
The “food system” extends far beyond the farm and involves the interaction of individuals and institutions with contrasting and often competing goals including farmers, researchers, input suppliers, farmworkers, unions, farm advisors, processors, retailers, consumers, and policymakers. Relationships among these actors shift over time as new technologies spawn Economic, social and political changes.
A wide diversity of strategies and approaches are necessary to create a more sustainable food system. These will range from specific and concentrated efforts to alter specific policies or practices, to the longer-term tasks of reforming key institutions, rethinking economic priorities, and challenging widely-held social values. Areas of concern where change is most needed. Government policies sometimes often obstruct the goals of sustainable agriculture. New policies are needed to simultaneously promote environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.
Challenges of Sustainable Agriculture in Bangladesh:
Major challenges of sustainable agriculture are rapid decrease of agricultural land, population growth and Rapid urbanization, climate change and variations, agricultural research and education (manpower shortage, updating course curriculum), technology generation (needs expertise, time and money, logistics support), alternate livelihoods/rehabilitation program, depletion of soil fertility: low nutrition, falling productivity of HYV: Stagnancy in Research, high production cost: Irrigation 26% P. Cost Subsidy only 0.1% and marketing and storage problems etc.
Significant of Sustainable Agriculture in Bangladesh:
Sustainable agriculture is a very crucial perspective of Bangladesh. Many people depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Now given below some significance-
l Mitigate food scarcity
l Get rid of monoculture
l Make better use of land and Reduce pollution
l Sustainable agriculture protects and conserves water
l Sustainable agriculture is primarily local and supports local communities and economies.
Now incentives and policies for ensuring the sustainability of agriculture will be crucial if we are to meet the demands of improving yields without comprising environmental integrity or public health. To maximize agriculture’s efficiency and sustainability, public policy should seek to internalize all cost and benefits in the price of production inputs, such as improving pricing mechanisms for irrigation water, facilitating land market development, and eliminating distorting taxes and subsidies on agrochemical inputs, including fertilizers. Secure property rights and other policies offering farmers incentives for investing in resource management, as well as access to yield-increasing and resource conserving technologies are critical.
The writer is an Associate Editor, The Environment Review. Email: email@example.com