Experts participating in the event said vulnerabilities of farmers need to be addressed first and resorting to traditional farming can minimize the impact of climate change. They said while the rural is a farmer is subsidizing the national economy, he received little in return. They also stressed good marketing practices to double the farmers’ income.
The speakers said, participating at the policy dialogue organized by Centre for Policy, Governance and Advocacy (c) here, that the national budget has taken unprecedented measures to reform and revive the agriculture sector but without a proper balance between profitability and sustainability, agriculture is going to have disastrous impact on the livelihood, national economy and the environment.
Dr. Himanshu Sekhar Rout from Utkal University said land degradation or soil erosion is a major challenge for productivity.
Rout said, “Due to faulty management of water roughly 70% to 75% of irrigation water diverted from the reservoir to the farm is lost mid-way thereby resulting very low irrigation efficiency of 25-30%.
He also stressed a check on the burning of rice-wheat straw which causes emissions of Greenhouse gas.
Practices like shifting cultivation are leading to destruction to forest and threat to biodiversity, Rout said and added, Indian agriculture is facing the dual challenge of farm income and rural employment opportunities. Issues like MSP, Credit linkage, Crop Insurance, Market Linkage, and Commercial Farming, he added.
Former Agriculture Production Commissioner Sanjeev Hota identified five key vulnerabilities of the agriculture sector such as farming being majorly done by small and marginal farmers without any bargaining power, mostly dependent on the government for MSP, lack of storage and transport facility, water scarcity and the bundle of risks involved in farming.“Without addressing these vulnerabilities there will be little utility in talking and planning on sustainability,” Hota said.
Dr. Srijit Mishra of NCDS highlighted five unsustainable practices in agriculture such as income unpredictability, difficult credit provision, uneven technology absorption, non-inclusive policy design, and un-integrated farming that in combination keep the sector backward.
He highlighted how the Odisha Millet Mission has emerged as a best practice model in nutritional intervention.
Natabar Sarangi highlighted the age-old tradition of farming and how modern science has imposed chemicals on agri-practices.
He identified the challenges on contemporary farming in three important sectors- Soil, Mechanization, and Seed and stressed that desi chasa (traditional farming) is the best alternative and the future of farming.
Dr. Sarba Narayan Mishra of OUAT suggested improvement in the procurement practices, adequate storage facility, enough centers for 100% procurement, inclusive MSP for poor and marginal farmers instead of being largely skewed towards large farmers. He suggested the Opening and modernization of Mandi and Market Infrastructure should be the top priority.