Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Sustainable Agriculture’ for class 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Sustainable Agriculture’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Sustainable Agriculture
- Essay on the Evolution of Sustainable Agriculture
- Essay on the Definition of Sustainable Agriculture
- Essay on the Concept of Sustainable Agriculture
- Essay on the Need for Sustainable Agriculture
- Essay on the Components of Sustainable Agriculture
- Essay on the Support Programme for Sustainable Agriculture
Essay # 1. Evolution of Sustainable Agriculture:
A wide range of critical environmental threats is posing a challenge to mankind all over the world. Some of these threats include degradation of soil, water, forest and marine resources essential to increased production of food, fodder, fibre, timber etc. Degradation of natural resource is the main issue threatening sustainable development of agriculture.
According to FAO, the three main causes for degradation of natural resources are:
i. Lack of access to land, inputs and other production resources by majority of rural households and communities (crop cultivation on marginal and sub-marginal lands without appropriate soil conservation measures, monoculture without crop rotation, unbalanced plant nutrition, indiscriminate use of agrochemicals, poor water management and other crop production practices).
ii. Lack of awareness among policy makers of the economic costs involved.
iii. Lack of environmentally sound alternative technologies acceptable to farmers.
Production scenario is beset with ecological, technological and demographic problems. In contrast, the demand scenario features a high growth rate in food requirements. Such situation would lead to dwindling global food reserves and an escalation in the cost of food-grains and other agricultural commodities. In this context, the need for redoubling efforts in enhancing agricultural production and in promoting agrarian prosperity is obvious.
In 1960s and 1970s, a growing environmental agriculture movement evolved in response to increasing soil erosion, pesticide use and ground water contamination. Simultaneously, the economic condition of farmers started progressive decline due to low levels of farm productivity.
In 1980s, Wes Jackson of The Land Institute in KS began using the term sustainable agriculture to describe an alternative system of agriculture based on resource conservation and quality of rural life.
Essay # 2. Definition of Sustainable Agriculture:
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the FAO (2000) defined sustainable agriculture and rural development as follows:
Sustainable development is the management and conservation of the natural resource base and the orientation of technological and institutional change in such a manner as to ensure the attainment and continued satisfaction of human needs for present and future generations.
Such sustainable development (in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors) conserves land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, is environmentally non-degrading, technically appropriate, economically viable and socially acceptable.
In 1995, FAO went on to define sustainable agriculture and rural development more specifically as a process that meets the following criteria:
i. Ensures that the basic nutritional requirements of present and future generations, qualitatively and quantitatively are met while providing a number of other agricultural products.
ii. Provides durable employment, sufficient income and decent living and working conditions for all those engaged in agricultural production.
iii. Maintains and where possible, enhances the productive capacity of the natural resource base as a whole and the regenerative capacity of renewable resources, without disrupting the functioning of basic ecological cycles and natural balances, destroying the socio- cultural attributes of rural communities or causing contamination of the environment.
iv. Reduces the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to adverse natural and socio-economic factors and other risks and strengthens self-reliance.
Sustainable agriculture can be defined as the form of agriculture aimed at meeting the food and fuel needs of the present generation without endangering the resource base for the future generations. It is an efficient management system of renewable resources including the soil, forests, crops, fish, livestock, biodiversity and ecosystems without degradation to provide adequate food and other needs of the present and future generations.
Thus, Mahatma Gandhi’s statement “Nature provides for everybody’s need but not for everybody’s greed” has to be given due consideration while exploiting our natural resources.
The Technical Advisory Committee of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) defined sustainable agriculture as successful management of resources for agriculture to satisfy changing human needs while maintaining or enhancing quality of the environment and conserving natural resources.
Fortunately, there is growing interest in promoting sustainable agriculture, which is also referred to by other names such as organic farming, biological farming, nature farming, regenerative agriculture, permaculture etc. Some of the other eco-friendly farming systems are alternate agriculture, ecological agriculture, integrated intensive farming system, low external input supply agriculture, biodynamic agriculture etc.
Essay # 3. Concept of Sustainable Agriculture:
Sustainable agriculture is a broad concept that covers a number of different approaches. All try in one way or other to achieve environmentally sound, economically profitable, ethically acceptable and socially responsible form of land husbandry. They have much in common with each other and different people and organisations define them differently, so overlap is not unusual.
The concept of sustainable agriculture has been conceived differently by different authorities/ authors. It embraces several forms of nonconventional agriculture that are often called organic, alternate, ecological, low input agriculture etc. In economic terms, the use of resource today should not reduce real income in future. Sustainable development encompasses several aspects or dimensions.
Sustainable agriculture should meet the needs of present without compromising the ability of future to meet their own needs (World Commission on Environment 1988). According to The World Conservation Union (1991), sustainable development is improving the quality of life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems.
In essence, sustainable development means protecting the natural resources needed for food production and cooking fuel, while expanding production to meet the needs of growing population. In other words, sustainable development means more efficient use of arable land and water supplies as well as development and adoption of improved agricultural practices and technologies to increase yield (World Resources 1992-93).
Sustainable agriculture is a complex issue associated with producing food while maintaining our biophysical resources including soil and water with no adverse impact on wider environment.
It should aim at:
a. Maintaining the human needs of today and tomarrow with quality food.
b. Conserving the natural resources (soil, water and biodiversity).
c. Economically viable farming practices for enhancing the productivity.
d. Maintaining or improving soil health.
e. Minimal impact on wide environment.
f. Society acceptability.
Essay # 4. Need for Sustainable Agriculture:
We can compare three broad types of farming: traditional production systems, conventional modern agriculture (such as green revolution technologies) and sustainable agriculture. We can compare them across three dimensions: ecological, economic and social (FAO 2000).
Many traditional and most conventional farm practices are not ecologically sustainable: they overuse natural resources, reducing soil fertility, causing soil erosion and contributing to global climatic change.
Sustainable agriculture has several major advantages over both traditional and conventional practices:
1. Soil Fertility:
Continuous fall in soil fertility is a major problem in many parts of India. Sustainable agriculture improves fertility and soil structure and prevents erosion, so would be an answer to this problem.
Irrigation is the biggest consumer of fresh water. Fertiliser and pesticides contaminate both surface and groundwater. Sustainable agriculture increases organic matter content of the top soil leading to retaining and storing water that falls as rain.
Sustainable agricultural practices frequently involve mixed cropping. Such cropping aids in increasing the diversity of crops produced and raising the diversity of insects and other animals and plants in and around fields.
Pesticides are hazardous to human health as well as to the local ecology. Incorrect handling, storage and use of pesticides lead to health and pollution problems. Sustainable agriculture reduces or eliminates the use of hazardous chemicals; instead it controls pests with a variety of biological and agronomic measures and the use of natural substances.
Agriculture and forestry cloth the rural landscape. Inappropriate use causes erosion, landslides and flooding, clogs irrigation channels and reduces the ability of the land to support the local population. Impoverished rural people flock into cities in search of jobs, forming unsightly, unsanitary slums that further destroy the landscape.
Rehabilitating ecologically damaged areas needs huge investments that few countries can afford. Sustainable agriculture avoids these problems by improving productivity, conserving the soil, avoiding the expansion of farming into unsuitable areas and preserving rural jobs.
The way agriculture is practiced contributes significantly to global climatic changes. Conventional agriculture contributes to production of greenhouse gases in various ways: by reducing the amount of carbon stored in the soil and in vegetation, through production of methane in irrigated fields and through energy intensive activities such as production of artificial fertilisers. Adopting sustainable agriculture would reduce these impacts significantly.
Agriculture cannot be sustainable unless it is economically viable over the long term. Conventional agriculture poses greater long term economic risks than sustainable alternatives.
1. Export vs Local Orientation:
Governments tend to view export oriented production systems as more important than those that supply domestic demands. This is misguided. Focusing on exports alone involves hidden costs: in transport, in assuring local food security etc.
Policies should treat domestic demand and in particular food security (either by farmers producing food for themselves or by selling produce for cash they can use to buy food) as equally important to visible trade balance.
Green revolution raised India’s grain output significantly, but a vast number of small scale farmers ran into a debt trap: they took out loans to raise their production, then found they could not pay the money back. Many of them were so desperate that they committed suicide.
Concentrating on specific commodities seems to promise high economic returns. But market production implies certain risks: markets change quickly and international agricultural prices are dropping. Cheap foreign food may sweep into the national market, leaving Indian farmers without a market.
As a World Trade Organisation signatory, Indian government is under pressure to deregulate and open its economy to the world market. As such, it cannot protect its farmers behind tariff walls.
4. Niche Markets:
Organic agriculture is one of the strongest ways to farm in an environmentally sustainable way. Demand for certified organic products is increasing quickly, opening opportunities to expand sales of such products and to explore niche markets.
Farming is the main source of employment for rural people. Trends towards specialisation and mechanisation may increase narrowly measured “efficiency”, but they reduce employment on the land. Welfare costs of unemployment must be taken into account when designing national agricultural support programmes. Sustainable agriculture, with its emphasis on small scale, labour intensive activities, helps overcome these problems.
Social sustainability of farming techniques is related to the ideas of social acceptability and justice. Ignoring these issues risks losing valuable local knowledge and provoking political unrest.
Development cannot be sustainable unless it reduces poverty for broad masses of people in India. Government must find ways to enable rural poor to benefit from agricultural development.
2. Political Unrest:
Gaps between the “haves” and “have-nots” feed a feeling of social injustice among those who feel neglected and excluded from development opportunities, as well as from better-off sympathisers. The result is a climate favourable to political opposition and even violence.
3. Local Acceptance:
Many new technologies fail because they are based on practices or assumptions from outside. Sustainable agricultural practices usually are based on local social customs, traditions, norms and taboos, As such, local people are more likely to accept them and adapt them to their own needs.
4. Indigenous Knowledge:
Sustainable agricultural practices often rely on traditional know- how and local innovation. Local people have a wealth of knowledge about their environment, crops and livestock. They keep locally adapted breeds and crop varieties.
They have social structures that manage and conserve common resources, help people in need and maintain the social fabric. Rather than ignoring or replacing this knowledge, sustainable agricultural development seeks to build on it and enrich it with appropriate information from outside.
In traditional agriculture, women traditionally bear the heaviest burdens in terms of labour. In modern conventional farming, too, men often benefit the most: they control what is grown and how the resulting income is spent. Sustainable agriculture attempts to ensure that the burdens and benefits are shared more equitably between men and women.
6. Food Security:
Traditional farming techniques often fail to produce enough food, or enough variety of food for a balanced diet. Conventional modern farming focuses on a few commodities, so people still do not have a balanced diet. Sustainable agriculture improves food security by improving the quality and nutritional value of the food and by producing a bigger range of produce throughout the year.
Traditional society in India is driven by wealth and caste distinctions. Introducing conventional farming innovations tends to exacerbate these: the rich and higher caste tends to benefit, while the poor and lower caste are left out. Sustainable agricultural interventions consciously target the less well-off, and empower them. As such, they can organise and speak with their own “voice”, so promoting dialogue and democracy.
Essay # 5. Components of Sustainable Agriculture:
The main component of the sustainable agricultural system are:
Soil erosion should be checked and there must be upgrading of depleted soils. This would improve the biological potentials of land. The soil should be classified on the basis of paisawari (100%, 75%, 50%, 25%) malady once recognized remedy at the local levels be sought.
Water resources should be managed in a sustainable and conservational manner. It will be appropriate to express yield in terms of units of water consumed rather than only in terms of land use.
3. Biological Diversity:
The loss of biological diversity at a time when the value of genetic estate has been greatly enhanced by genetic engineering techniques which enable the transfer of genes across sexual barriers, is particularly unfortunate. It will become difficult to overcome the growing problem caused by pest, diseases, and weeds as well as soil and climatic stresses if there is no access to a wide range of genetic variability.
Therefore, integrated strategy for the conservation of biological diversity is needed. The genetic enhancement research need be established to transfer genes from wild species to cultivated plants by molecular biologists.
4. Economically Viable and Ecologically Sound Techniques:
There is need for promoting the economically viable and ecologically sound techniques. The frontier technologies of particular interest are: biotechnology, information technology, space technology, micro-electronics and management technology.
A symphonic agricultural system where there is harmony among the components is the need of our time. For each agro-ecological region a symphonic agricultural matrix must be constructed. There is an urgent need for political and social structures which can convert the possibility of an agricultural symphony into reality.
A shift from chemical farming to ecological system of farming should be gradual. It takes time to build up a sufficient organic base for fertility and improvement in soil physical, chemical and biological properties. A shift into the ecological farming is highly knowledgeable, labour oriented complex system, integrating several organic recycling.
The ecological fanning is holistic in nature, there may not be one or two things to be taken into consideration but the fanner must build organic base with organic manures and bio-fertilizers also keep an eye on plant protection which is preventive approach rather than controlling approach. The plant derived compounds are mostly repellent like neem products.
Essay # 6. Support Programme for Sustainable Agriculture:
Sustained agricultural advancement is possible in India because the country has developed sufficient infrastructure to support programme such as:
(a) Technology Development:
Education, research institutional network which works towards tailoring of the available technology into varied agro- ecological, socio-economic conditions on the country. Also developing linkage between the research laboratories and farmers through different non-formal programmes like lab to land and Krishi Vigyan Kendra, operational research project.
The extension services motivated farmers to adopt technology, the input supply system made required input available which was made possible through support of credit institutions.
The farms of the prosperous area, viz., Punjab, made investment in land, consolidation, leveling, water management, soil health, communication, helping expanding market, rural electrification to tap ground water and operation of post-harvest equipment brought transformation into agricultural prosperity.
(c) Public Policy:
Political priority to agricultural sector resulting availability of package of technology and services. Further, public policy has created marketing infrastructure though communication, transportation, price policy, incentives to farmers has been through land reform, input prices etc.
Despite of all progress achieved so far, all is not well, for example, there are waste land, only 10.88 per cent is under forest. There is an urgent need for researches in the direction of development of plant and animal genetics for improvement in yield and quality.