Green to Greener: India’s Vision Toward Sustainable Agri-Products
India's agriculture industry is at a turning point in its evolution. The most notable phase in Indian agriculture is still the green revolution, which was characterized by intense contemporary agricultural methods, high-yielding variety (HYV) seeds, and fertilizers. However, with growing global and Indian concerns about food safety and sustainable agriculture, it is essential to rethink how India's agro-industry will develop in the future.
Since 42 percent of the workforce in India relies on the agricultural industry for employment, agriculture is frequently referred to as the foundation of the Indian economy. Given that it accounts for 19.9 percent of the GDP; it is important to the national economy. As one of the oldest and most labor-intensive businesses in the world, farming demands innovation and resilience not only to increase production but also to ensure the sector's overall sustainability. Without a doubt, COVID-19 has made reforms in the agricultural sector even more necessary. The most significant sector of agriculture, horticulture, has had consistent growth over the past ten years. It currently accounts for 30 percent of the GDP in agriculture and is expected to increase.
India’s Vision Towards Sustainability Through Agriculture
A primary focus of India's entire agri-policy framework has always been horticulture. As a result, it is predicted that overall horticulture production will reach 327 million tons in 2020–21, an increase of roughly six million tons from 2019–20, easily surpassing cereal production. However, this important sector is disproportionately affected by the negative effects of climate change. Unprecedented natural disasters, such as drought, pandemics, cyclones, torrential downpours, and floods, have occurred over the previous few years. The unpredictable weather brought on by climate change makes production more challenging. This results in increased usage of pesticides and other chemicals, which furthers environmental degradation and starts a vicious cycle.
At the same time, markets and consumers are growing increasingly aware of the importance of sustainable farming practices, safe and hygienic food processing, and food safety. For instance, food traceability is quickly gaining ground. With such advanced technology, consumers may find out more about who, where, and when the crop was grown. They can also get information on the footprint of the crop's trip from pre-harvest to the market shelf.
This enables customers to distinguish between safe food and unidentified fruit, opening up a market opportunity that is essential to guarantee farmers can receive fair returns and premiums for implementing and adhering to sustainable practices. The most important factor in connecting consumers' needs for ‘safe and sustainable food’ with farmers' ability and desire to produce it is the supply network between farmers and consumers.
It may be the only way to stop the vicious cycle and begin a virtuous one as well. In addition to being crucial for gaining the trust of customers, reducing supply chain waste is the simplest (thanks to contemporary technologies) and has the biggest impact. Thus, the solution to one of the largest problems that humanity is currently facing is integrated value chains from farmers to consumers. These interconnected value chains have already had a favourable impact. For instance, the changes to the banana value chain over the past ten years have shown us the way.
How to Increase the Demand for Sustainable Agriproducts
In spite of not participating in international commerce a decade ago, India is now the world's largest producer of bananas, accounting for almost 25 percent of the total production. Poor farm-level production processes, subpar quality standards, and a lack of infrastructure were to blame for this. India's greatest fruit export by volume, thanks to sustained efforts in creating this value chain, has seen shipments increase to over 300,000 tons annually. The adoption of a modern set of practices, the implementation of a 100 percent drip irrigation system for water saving, the enhancement of production by 30 percent, and compliance with international food safety and quality standards necessitated extensive farmer training.
Improved packaging, end-to-end traceability, and infrastructure creation enhanced shelf life by more than 50 percent. As a result, organizations exceeded any global standard by reducing wastage to below two percent. All of this was made possible by raising farmers' incomes by up to 100 percent. As more and more agri-tech companies and innovative businesses emerge, the technologies and creativity necessary to create sustainable food production and consumption will continue to advance.
The good news is that we already have solutions that will greatly enhance sustainable production methods for people and the environment. Drip irrigation systems that help conserve water, safer chemicals, precision farming that uses more organic fertilizer, and contemporary farming methods that ensure food safety, as well as improved packaging, cold chain infrastructure, traceability systems, and transportation that reduce waste to a minimum, are all current technologies.
Additionally, the shifts in consumer tastes result in the creation of demand and payment for sustainable practices. The agriculture industry needs to be reoriented from a production-driven to a demand-driven, sustainable farming methodology on a large scale. To do this, appropriate agri-reforms and incentive systems for farmers to adopt sustainable practices must be developed.
In India, the potential for promoting sustainable agricultural methods is currently improving. Modern agri-tech companies can play a key role in enhancing farmer income, empowering farmers, promoting sustainable agricultural practices, reducing crop wastage, and more.
Technology-driven farm interventions and improved climate forecasting capabilities will help to lessen crop loss and lessen the effects of climate change. Our dedication to regulating and improving agricultural output, maximizing farmer income, and increasing public knowledge of food safety will also help to ensure the sector's long-term sustainability.
What is the Present Scenario of Agriculture in India?
The current trajectory of agricultural production development is unsustainable due to its detrimental effects on the environment and natural resources. Up to 75 percent of crop genetic variety has been lost, one-third of farmland has been destroyed, and 22 percent of animal breeds are in danger. Over the previous ten years, almost 13 million hectares of forests per year were converted into other land uses, and more than half of fish sources are fully utilized. At a time when there is a rising demand for food, feed, fiber, and commodities and services from agriculture (including crops, livestock, forests, fisheries, and aquaculture), there is a growing shortage of natural resources and a rapid degradation of those resources.
In regions that depend heavily on agriculture and currently have significant levels of food insecurity, some of the fastest population increase is anticipated. Natural resource stocks and utilization rates provide problems that frequently cut beyond national lines. In order to safeguard natural resources and reduce collateral harm, international governance systems and processes must promote sustainable growth across all agriculture sectors.