Magesh Kanna Shanmuganathan, DBCA, Takkolam

Agroecology and its Challenges

Agroecology deals with the application of ecological concepts and principles for the designing and managing the activities of sustainable agro-ecosystems. It signifies the leading edge of scientific farming, assimilating the most advanced knowledge of biology, genetics, agronomy, soil science, entomology and other sciences with the traditional agricultural knowledge of farmers in a region.

Disciplines of Agroecology:

· A scientific discipline, involving the holistic study of agroecosystem, including human and environmental elements.

· A set of principles and practices to enhances the resilience and ecological, soio-economic and cultural sustainability of farming systems.

· A movement seeking a new way of considering agriculture and its relationships with society.




Agroecology benefits:

Sustains or increase yields, enhances livelihoods, supports health and nutrition, builds ecological resilience, improves efficiency, especially of small farms.

Agroecology Challenges:

· Policy environment

· Market Structure

· Information, Knowledge and Technology

· Research

are the four important challenges of agroecology.

Policy Environment includes subsidies, R&D priorities, large scale promotions of low input, revaluation of the disproportionate policy focus on Green Revolution areas needed, Public Distribution System has been under controversy in terms of efficiency, outreach, utility and targeting, community institutions, such as cooperatives and local NGOs are often poorly resourced, limited acknowledgement of the role that forest, indigenous and uncultivated food crops and poor gender accounting.

Market structure includes weak marketing infrastructure for smallholders, poor access to inputs and equipment, poor access to finance, poor access to additional services, Difficult for retailers to engage small farmers fairly, medium-large farmers disproportionately benefit, pressure of globalisation, certification cost and poor responsiveness to market signals.

Information, Knowledge and Technology includes lack of access to them, extension services and channels are not easily accessible to women, who are the majority of farmers, current models of agricultural education, research and knowledge sharing are not suited to the promotion of agroecological practices and lack of information for the consumers.

Research includes case studies limited and further research and more comprehensive field trials and pilots assessing the effectiveness of agroecological solutions for pest control, soil fertility and other farming practices.

Recommendations and immediate Steps:

· Protect India’s sovereignty – reject GM food trials,

· Pilot agroecology regionally – level the playing field.

are the two important steps.

To conduct these steps some plans has to be followed such as, converting an expert group to establish pilot group, establish a clear budget, recruit cross-sector management team, engage Indian and international academic institutions, create a program that supports the process of conversion to agroecology, implement an interactive process for program improvements, implement necessary national and state -level policy changes and engage national and international investment community alongside broader civil society, review current agricultural policies, Indian Institute for Enlightened Agriculture, channel increased public funding into target agroecological research programs, national wide seed-saving program, support the growth of organic markets by purchasing a diverse basket of food types for government schemes, support and promote Farmer Producer Organizations and cooperatives and finally to establish nutrition education programmes in schools and colleges.

Reference:

1. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatjii (2015) Agroecology: India’s Journey to Agricultural Prosperity.

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