Sustainability in Agriculture is Essential for Sustenance of Agriculture

Environmental degradation or pollution is very often linked to industrialisation. What often escapes adequate attention is environmental degradation due to agricultural activities. While spread of agriculture itself meant massive deforestation in most countries post industrial revolution, the nature of agriculture itself changed drastically. Use of natural resources like land and water as well as bio-chemical inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, seeds etc. can have significant environmental impacts. On the face of it, such agricultural practices and inputs are likely to bring negative environmental externalities like soil degradation, waterlogging, depletion of ground water, loss of micro-nutrients in soil, contamination of ground and surface water etc. Above all, such environmental degradation can endanger the very sustainability of agriculture itself.

In the past decade, India has emerged as a major agricultural exporter, with exports climbing from just over $5 billion in 2003 to a record of more than $39 billion in 2013. India’s export growth over the past decade has been the highest of any country. Considering where India stood about 50 years ago in terms of production and trade in agricultural goods, this is a major achievement. However, this achievement came with a cost. After independence the use of fertilizers in India in the last 65 years has grown nearly 230 times (from 0.55Kg per hectare in 1950 to 128.34 Kg per hectare in 2012-13).

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