Friday, August 27, 2010

Future of Farming and Food

Food is essential for life and food security is the basic welfare of the state. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, one sixth of world population or more than one billion of people go bed hungry everyday and one in seven people do not have enough protein and energy in their diet. According to the Global Hunger Index  for 2009, India is ranked a poor 65th in fighting hunger, and close to 23%of Indians go without food everyday. The noiseless food crisis is the serious problem for growing population. As per US census bureau, by 2050 the world population will be 9.28 Billions. How will the world meet the food needs with existing arable land and natural resources? There are multiple challenges to sustain the food security for growing population.

Agriculture is the core sector for food and economic growth which is laborious profession. Presently, majority of farmers are poor, not well educated and they don’t have finance facilities to upgrade the farming with modern technologies. Irregular, adverse climate conditions and poor farm extension services are discouraging the farm productivity. The farmers’ income dropped down and debts are in raise due to non-remunerative prices and various reasons. Already they started thinking that farming is not much remunerative and 40 per cent of them want to give up farming. Most of the people are migrating to urban areas in search of better, trendy, high- paying white collar jobs. In those circumstances, who will do agriculture and who will produce food for us? The farmers have to be double or even triple to feed the next generation. So the social standing, appreciation and safeguard of farmers should be raised.

As everybody knows we controlled the hunger and famines by introducing high yield, disease resistant, virus modified and hybrid crops named as Green Revolution. So…major investments have to be made with public and private partnership in agriculture science and technologies to develop bumper yielding and draught resistant crops. Genetic engineering has to play vital role for future agriculture to protect the crops and produce the food products with high nutrition values. Organic agriculture is good but only that itself can’t feed the growing population. The agronomists must try to educate the people on taboos and realities of Genetically Modified crops.

Agriculture occupies the 33% of land on earth, it takes 70% of earth’s fresh water and spoils 60% of it. We need 3 liters water for our daily needs and 3000 liters of water required for our daily food needs. The management of water is the key for our food production and water is going to be more expensive in future. The agriculture scientist should use the Biological, DNA solutions to replace the chemical applications for protecting the soil, air and water. Global warming, Climatic change, water shortage is going to effect the crop yields eventually food shortage. We need to develop eco-friendly farming practices to enhance biodiversity and preserve the natural resources.

In India, 30- 40 percent of perishable food produces are rot at the production site or transit due to poor harvesting procedures, improper transportation and storage facilities. Lot of food grains are going waste after harvesting in different levels like farm and storage. Processing industries have to setup to process the fruits and vegetables for future consumption. A vigorous research and development has to be done on food packaging materials to protect from insects. We need large investments to improve the agriculture infrastructure in terms of processing, storage facilities, rural transportation and supply chain linkage to the consumers.

Livestock are important contributors to total food production and their part is equal to cereals. Around 55 billion chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows, sheep and ducks are killed year for year, world wide. As per my perception, depend on animals for food is extremely strain and inefficient. Give up the meat and adopting vegetarian life style is best for human health and environment because eating meat makes the food chain longer from plants to humans. Moreover20 billions of ruminant animals are responsible for 18% of green house gas emissions. In future animal welfare, rights are going to be strong and may not be acceptable the hormone-laden feed used to make them grow faster and produce more.

The future agricultural revolution will be different from the earlier green revolution. I hope it’s the time for political policies, visionary leaders, biological, DNA solutions, software technologies, communication, renewable energies, heavy investments in infrastructure, credit facilities to farmers, education and training…..these are all collectively improve the way of farming in better fashion which leads to food security. We wish the Agriculture will reclaim its share in the economy by all these efforts.Food is prized, wasting food is not reasonable.

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