Looking at agroecology, how it works, and its benefits for sustainable agriculture
Ramesh-Chaurasia-Looking at agroecology, how it works, and its benefits for sustainable agriculture
In the upcoming five decades, the stress on foodgrains will rise significantly as the population of the world is on a surge and it is estimated to reach ten billion. While on the one hand, there is a huge need to prevent hunger, feed everyone, and ensure food security, on the other hand, we have to protect the environment from the downsides of unsustainable farming practices.
Practicing resource-intensive agriculture with indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to meet the growing food demand of the population has led to the massive deterioration of the environment in the form of deforestation, water pollution, eutrophication, contamination of groundwater, soil degradation, and emission of greenhouse gases. Despite the efforts to boost agricultural production with the use of chemicals, hunger remains one of the critical challenges all over the globe. Therefore there is an urgent need to transform the agricultural systems.
What does agroecology mean?
Agroecology is an excellent way to practice agriculture sustainably. It combines the scientific concepts with the traditional and practical knowledge of farmers to design ways that not only enhance the production of food but also protect the planet on which we live. Agroecology takes into consideration the need to save the ecosystems and mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.
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It makes use of the relationships between human beings and their surroundings and displays how both of them can coexist. Another impressive part of this holistic approach empowers the farmers by putting them in the driver’s seat instead of pushing them to the side by addressing the economic and social issues associated with agriculture. Therefore adopting agroecological practices paves the way to work towards accomplishing twelve out of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals.
Agroecology is a broad term that includes practices like organic farming and agroforestry. To understand this sustainable concept better, let us look at the different aspects and advantages of agroecology.
1. Optimizes the diversity
In intercropping, two or more crops are grown in the same patch of land in one agricultural season one of which is in most cases leguminous enhances the nitrogen content of the soil. And crop rotation refers to the practice of growing two or more crops sequentially on the same plot across different agricultural seasons. There are two integral practices under agroecology that optimize the diversity of species to improve the soil condition while at the same increasing production.
2. Encourages co-creation and participation of farmers
Agroecology aims at involving farmers and agricultural communities in the process of devising and implementing novel measures as their participation will ensure that the innovations implemented are inclusive of their social and economic needs.
3. Creates synergies for better outcomes
This ecosystem-based approach realizes the significance of the interaction of two or more components of the system. To understand this better let us look at the example of rice-fish agriculture in which the cultivation of rice is integrated with aquaculture. Fishes help in controlling pests and weeds and they also act as fertilizers, thus minimizing the need to use pesticides, weedicides, and fertilizers.
4. Promotes Efficiency
The practices under agroecology are such that they ensure greater yields without the need to use huge amounts of inputs. This profits the farmers and gives them economic stability.
5. Reduces waste and focuses on recycling
Agroecology promotes the recycling of organic materials and by-products so that the waste generated is minimal and this also reduces the dependency of farmers on external resources. Recycling is visible in the integration of livestock and crops. In this system, the waste products of livestock are used as manure and the crop residues are used to feed the livestock.
6. Builds resilience
Through various innovations, agroecology helps in making the food-producing systems resilient to natural catastrophes like floods and droughts. Not only that, but agroecology also enhances the economic resilience of farmers in times of crop failure with the help of practices like crop rotation and mixed cropping.
7. Tackles with the social issues
Agroecology does not only work towards eradicating hunger but poverty as well. It also seeks to make efforts to reduce gender inequalities by including more women in the agricultural sphere.
There is no denying the fact that the implementation of agroecological innovations requires awareness as well as financial incentives. This can be possible only with the development and implementation of excellent government initiatives like the ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’ that was implemented in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Considering the current situation, steps should be taken as soon as possible in the direction of agroecology by the concerned authorities.
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A superior and highly experienced entrepreneur in the field of business for quite a long time now. Also, a philanthropist, author and public speaker who believes in working towards the overall well being and betterment of the society as a whole.