ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Towards a Resilient Farming System


Rural and agrarian issues are being discussed widely in policy circles, newspapers and the electronic media. Still, the diverse solutions proposed by policymakers do not seem to be addressing the deep structural malaise that has set in at the core of India’s agrarian economy. The major growth episodes of Indian agriculture are closely associated with the initiation and spread of the green revolution paradigm and technology. But, it is increasingly becoming clear that this path of high external input agriculture is unsustainable and has placed enormous strain on the natural resource base of the economy (FAO 2017). Satellite-based assessments by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) showed that in northwestern India, the core green revolution area, groundwater depletion accounted for the loss of 109 km3 of groundwater between 2002 and 2008 (Rodell et al 2009). There have also been several studies indicating high land degradation, decline in the levels of soil organic matter and loss of soil fertility in core green revolution areas. Soil erosion has been another major reason for soil fertility depletion and land degradation, taking away 8 million tonnes of plant nutrients every year through a loss of 5.3 billion tonnes of soil (Prasad and Biswas 2000).

All these factors together indicate that the search for solutions to problems that plague Indian agriculture must begin by fundamentally questioning the green revolution paradigm. This alternative path for agriculture takes agroecology as its core, making a decisive shift away from the production-centric approach of the green revolution paradigm towards an ecosystem-centric view of agriculture. From an agroecological perspective, the internal stability or resilience of a farming system is a function of the network of links forged between various components of the system. The green revolution paradigm and cultural practices associated with it break down the internal linkages of the system, making it increasingly dependent on external energy subsidies such as fossil fuels-based chemical fertilisers, pesticides, etc (Alteiri 1995). Building resilience in the farming system is imperative to manage climate vulnerability of agriculture. Climate variations have always been a source of risk for farmers, especially the smallholder farmers operating in the rain-fed tracts of the country. Climate change threatens to affect the distribution of rainfall, both within the monsoon period and over the year. The pathway to building climate change resilience is through developing a balanced and integrated agricultural system, with limited external chemical inputs and a greater emphasis on climate-resilient crops and cropping systems.

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Updated On : 5th Jul, 2019
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