‘Integrated farming models are suitable for small & marginal land holders towards ensuring better incomes & securing livelihoods’ said Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education & Director General, ICAR, during his keynote address on Boosting nature-positive production at the CII National Dialogue on Agri & Food: Actions towards strengthening Food Systems in India.
Ranked seventh on the Global Climate Risk Index, India faces an urgent need of adapting its food system to feed its growing population sustainably. It is thus imperative to actively promote measures around enhancing productivity, food security, soil health and water conservation sustainably.
Speaking about the overall framework for Boosting nature-positive production, Mr. Joao Campari (UNFSS Action Track 3 Chair), Global Leader Food Practice, WWF International, mentioned “The cost of externalities including impact on environment human life, and economy is almost double that of actual cost of food production. Thus food is currently priced at only 1/3 rd of its true value”.
“Farming Carbon as a form of commodity that can be traded can create another income stream for farmers” said Dr. Rattan Lal (UNFSS – Scientific group), Professor of Soil Science, Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University, while mentioning the importance of a soil centric approach towards sustainable production.
To overcome the challenges of fragmented land holdings, over exploitation of natural resources, limited uptake of technology, on and off farm wastages, India needs to focus on actions which optimise environmental resources used in food production, processing, and distribution, thereby reducing biodiversity loss, pollution, water use, soil degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.
Towards boosting resource efficiency and building resilience, Mr. Atul Bagai, Head of Country Office, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), mentioned that ‘Efficient & integrated Cold chain and Logistics is critical to ensure sustainable, healthy & inclusive food system in urban & semi urban areas’.
Going forward focus also needs to be on limiting new conversion of natural systems and protected areas for food production; sustainably managing existing food production systems and restoring and rehabilitating degraded systems.
Focusing on understanding of the constraints and opportunities facing smallholder farmers and small-scale enterprises along the food value chain is the need of the hour. The cornerstone of success in bringing about a more vibrant agricultural sector lies in upping agricultural R&D spending to at least 1% of agricultural GDP, thereby charting a trajectory of higher and inclusive growth, and making the national plan of doubling farmers’ income in the near future possible.
‘Agriculture can be positioned as a strong pillar for India’s economic growth over the next decade towards achieving the SDGs of Zero Hunger and No Poverty’ said Mr Duraiswami Narain, Chair, CII core Group on Sustainability, Senior Bayer Representative for South Asia and Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Bayer CropScience Limited while addressing the session.
The Session also saw a vibrant panel discussion. The panellists, Mr Rahoul Sawani, President - South Asia, Corteva Agriscience; Mr Sameer Goel, Managing Director, Coromandel International; Mr Roshan Lal Tamak, Executive Director & CEO (Sugar Business), DCM Shriram; Mr Rohtash Mal, Chairman, EM3; Mr Sriram Gopal, Founder, Future Farms; and Mr Rahul Kumar, Farmer representative; focused on identifying actionable pathways for India, towards optimizing environmental resource use in food production, processing and distribution.
The pathways identified will act as a roadmap for Industry and Government for committed efforts to India meeting the SDGs.
The Session was part of a 2-day National Dialogue organized by CII on Actions towards strengthening Food Systems in India, aligned with the UN Food Systems Summit 2021.
The multistakeholder National Dialogue focused on scaling actions towards feeding the most populous nation on this planet by 2030 in a sustainable manner.