Sustainable-farmingBy Ali Ahsan Bajwa, Ehsan Ullah, Muhammad Farooq and Shakeel Ahmad Anjum

ONCE J.D Sachs said, “we need to defend the interests of those whom weve never met and never will”. He was quite right with this demand because services are always memorable and commendable when offered without interests. We are thriving in a materialistic world to draw our own benefits. Todays man has left the sense of respecting others interests and concerns far behind in the expedition of modernization. His endeavors are well directed to achieve personal profits rather than thinking of communal welfare. Without mush deviating from my issue I must say its time to re-think about our most important sector – agriculture.

Enough has been explored and a lot more, still to come regarding agricultural development. Farmers have got technology, awareness, skills and potential to explore the productivity of land races. Meanwhile, the advancements have derailed them. Intensive farming has become a common practice especially in developing nations like us. It is somewhat inevitable because more mouths are to be fed with relatively fewer fertile lands. After green revolution of 1960s a gigantic increment in crop production was observed. Semi-dwarf, fertilizer responsive, less prawn to biotic and abiotic stresses, fast growing and high yielding varieties sufficed the food requirements of existing population. But the pace of population multiplication was much higher than primary productivity of crops. Consequently, the conundrum of food insecurity started to build up and now it is the most aching agony of modern age. Researchers are trying to abridge this demand and supply gap through advancement in agriculture. Improved high yielding cultivars, modified sowing methods, farm mechanization, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, growth regulators, intense cultivations and modern post-harvest operations are collectively contributing to high levels of food production.

Due to indiscriminate use of technology and farm inputs, aerial and soil environments in agro-ecosystems have been severely polluted. Soil is degraded, water is polluted, biodiversity is contracted, air is suffocated and food is adulterated and we are just achieving higher yields. These adversities have reached us due to elevated greed and selfishness. The only way to sort out this problem is adoption of sustainable agriculture (SA). I could define it in very first line but the details were necessary to emphasize its need. It is actually a basket containing such resource conservation technologies that ensure maximum production by least use of farming and natural inputs without disturbing setup of nature. It is featured by strong inhibition of chemicals use and least utilization of farm machinery. Moreover, it encourages the use of natural products as inputs like farmyard manure as fertilizer. SA offers long term conservation of resources. Long term achievement and optimization of good management options is its prime objective. More or less it is the revival of conventional agriculture staying in modern age. It does not mean the crop production regime involving bullocks and cart is coming back but the environmental exploitation will surely be reduced as it was previously.

SA offers a better environment to crops and helps to develop natural habitats. The biggest advantage is environmental safety in addition to food quality assurance. Soil fertility can be increased and its inherent capacity to provide nutrients can be revived and strengthened. Crops are not sensitive to minor changes in climate due to more natural adaptations. Groundwater will be free of chemical leachates and water bodies will be free of pesticidal effluents. It will develop resistant crops and weeds infestation will also reduce. It is surely a quality production system regarding crops as well as another important sector of agriculture, livestock. Organic feed will ensure the health of animals and thus quality milk and meat production. Organic foods produced by SA are free of contaminants, adulterants, heavy metals and other impurities.

Adoption of SA is a big question as it is based on economic and sociological norms of any region. Developed nations around the globe have started to shift towards SA. But developing nations like us are still reluctant. The reluctance is due to lack of resources, awareness, guidance, research and motivation. It is common perception among local farmers that SA is a low producing agricultural regime and profits are less. This notion is totally wrong however; initially it requires more time, capital investment and may offer lesser yields. But once it is well adopted can fulfill the food and money requirement in an efficient manner. It is not a single step process and we should move slowly towards it.

Adoption of integrated management options can help a lot in this regard. Mixed use of organic and already prevalent synthetic inputs and similarly combined practices of modern agriculture and SA could prove more profitable. In the long run it is the most acceptable and applicable agricultural system that will ensure environmental protection, food security, economic stability and peace. It is pragmatic approach to save our present and future of coming generations.

The writers are associated with Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad

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