Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Land conversion

Over a period of time food security has emerged as a critical issue. We all know access to healthy food and optimal nutrition for all is at the core of food security. Or we can say food security is dependent on a healthy and sustainable food system. When we talk of food system, it is food availability, food accessibility and food affordability that constitute the pillars of food security. However, lot of imbalances are visible in our food system as people have been facing difficulty to have physical and economic access to adequate amounts of nutritious, safe, and culturally appropriate foods. Shortage of food has even hit the people who carve out their living by producing food. In the context of our state, we are fast losing our food resources. Uncontrolled conversion of agriculture and horticulture land for non-agriculture purposes including setting up of commercial complexes, residential house and colonies here has come up as a serious issue. The unplanned constructions have severely affected the agricultural landscape of the state. People are now more related towards modern means of earning their livelihoods and have focused their attention to more technical and extensive readymade methods of earning their living. Even in some rural areas, practicing agriculture is now the practice of past and obsolete. Sadly in the absence of housing policy, the state has witnessed unplanned growth of residential and commercial establishments. And this has direct bearing on our food security as this conversion of arable land is threatening our self-sufficiency in food grains. It is no secret that today we depend totally on import to meet most of our food requirements, as the local production of food grains does not keep pace with the requirements. From rural point of view, land conversion is simply loss of prime agricultural land, reduced agricultural jobs and wasted investment in irrigation infrastructure. This simply translates into dwindling agricultural production. However, when we talk of a logical urban growth, the conversion is inevitable. We have seen some conversion of agriculture land into non-agriculture because of developmental activities like construction of roads, bridges, acquisition of land for railways and other public purposes. But this conversion is a small portion and above all it benefits the public. The point here is uncontrolled conversion of agriculture land for non-agriculture purposes will have detrimental effect on the very sustainability of food resources in the state as the population is increasing at a very fast pace and with declining food resources, the state government will have to face the brunt of damage. There will be increase in food inflation, expensive food imports, turning small farmers into workers and urbanization of farmers for their livelihood. Less food production will even progressively increase the cost of public distribution system (PDS) leading to weakening of the food security supply chain. In the long-run, there will be inflationary pressures as the price of food items will push up. Ultimate impact will be on common people who will witness a drop in their productivity and income levels; thus further worsening the poverty situation. Besides it is not only of food that we get from agriculture land, but the ecology of state is directly dependent on the sustainability of these resources: if these green treasures are cut shot, the ecology of the state will be affected greatly. At the moment we cannot afford a slow response to these threats to our food security. Land conversion is a phenomenon that is almost unavoidable during economic development and population growth periods. However, uncontrolled land conversion will only lead to food scarcity. We have to anticipate our weakening agrarian economy. Remember, we spend major portion of our income on food. That means even a modest rise in food prices can turn into a life-threatening proportion. Indeed taking this very grim picture of the state agricultural sector into consideration, it is imperative for the state dispensation as well as common masses to thoroughly have a relook and put a policy in place and implement it, so that unabated conversion can be controlled. Otherwise the eco-fragility and eco-sustainability of the state will be grossly affected and will reflect in depletion of agrarian resources and disturbance of eco-balance of the state.