In the present scenario, where the world economy is in a state of imbalance and market prices of food items is on the increase, survival has become a serious matter of concern for the common man everywhere. He is striving hard to meet the needs of his family. Nevertheless, since man learnt to plough the land and cultivate crops he had never looked back. To be alive, it is necessary to consume food.
Agriculture has undergone a sudden and marked change since World War II. Food productivity achieved new landmarks due to the implementation of latest technologies, mechanization and improved methods of cultivation. However, there are pros and cons to it. Extensive use of modern methods led to topsoil erosion, groundwater contamination, poor socio-economic conditions of the labourers and increased costs of production. Hence, the practise of sustainable agriculture has been in the limelight since two decades, not only to improve agricultural methods but also to offer tremendous opportunities to the farmers.
Sustainable agriculture refers to exploiting the natural resources to produce food indefinitely without destroying the ecological balance of an area. It integrates three main goals, viz, environmental health, economic profitability and prosperous farming communities. Apart from air and sunlight crops require water and soil nutrients to grow. When farmers cultivate land and grow crops they remove some of these nutrients and the land offers reduced yields.
Sustainable agriculture promotes the replenishment of soil minimising the use of non-renewable resources. Stewardship of both natural and human resources is the cornerstone of this concept. Sufficient rainfall is required for the growth of crops. Scarcity of rain promotes the development of sustainable irrigation methods with the usage of submerssible pumps to avoid salinisation of soil and unlimited use of water. Cultivation of salt-tolerant crops, low-volume irrigation and various management techniques to minimise the effect of salt on crops are features of sustainable agriculture.
Deforestation has led to the conversion of natural habitats of many plant and animal species to agricultural land. This method prevents the natural ecosystem from destruction and also enhances agricultural pest management. Diversification of plants and livestocks promote the biological and economic stablitiy of the farm. Toxic, organic chemicals should be replaced by synthetic and sustainable chemicals to maintain environmental health.
Proper management decisions should reflect not only environmental and broad social considerations, but also individual goals and lifestyle choices. A wide diversity of strategies and approaches are necessary to create a more sustainable food system. Specific and concentrated efforts that change the current rules and policies to the longer-term tasks of redevising economic prioirities, land-use and challenging social values are to be implemented. It is the responsiblity of all participants engaged in the system of sustainable agriculture to promote it thereby preventing the depletion of our natural resources.