Tuesday, July 23, 2024

To reap, we must sow

Agriculture is going through a transition in civilisation. Just over 12,000 years old, settled agriculture is a totally human endeavour that caters to food demands. It was merely a need-based activity when it first started. With 600 million farms presently providing food for more than 8 billion people worldwide, it has developed into a multitrillion dollar industry today. It has been projected that the next three decades will see the pinnacle of this sector’s transformation, which began in the 1980s. What is this change? There will be no more farm creation in the world; instead, experts say, there will be a farm consolidation. For a country like India (and for the majority of the impoverished and developing countries in Asia, Africa, and North America), this is a transformation never anticipated and, as a result, never prepared for. For example, since 1970-1971, the number of farm properties in operation in India has been steadily rising. In 1971, India had 71 million landholdings. The most recent Agriculture Census, which was conducted in 2015-2016, shows that these have been divided into 146.5 million holdings. India’s agri-policy, therefore, concentrates on the effects of decreasing production because of the tiny area of land required to feed more than a billion people. This clarifies the singular emphasis on raising production at whatever expense or expense. This is going to move in the diametrically opposite direction, if the global trend is translated into the Indian scenario. It is against this backdrop that we find Nagaland’s agriculture and horticulture sectors stuck in a state of decline for the past many decades. This decline threatens not only the livelihoods of its agrarian communities but also the State’s ecological balance and food security. The State Government needs to act swiftly and comprehensively to bring these vital sectors back to vibrancy and productivity. Agriculture in Nagaland has historically been the cornerstone of its economy and cultural heritage. But there has been a severe decline in this sector recently. This reduction is caused by a number of issues, some of which include the complete lack of government incentives and assistance, antiquated farming methods, inadequate irrigation infrastructure and soil erosion in the hilly parts of the State. These problems are made worse by the effects of climate change, which show themselves as extreme weather events and unpredictable weather patterns that destroy crops and deteriorate soil health. An essential component of successful agriculture is efficient irrigation. However, Nagaland’s irrigation system is still woefully antiquated and inadequate. Most of the farmers still use outdated rain-fed techniques, which are becoming less and less dependable as a result of shifting rainfall patterns. The development of contemporary irrigation techniques, such as sprinkler and drip systems that can optimise water use and guarantee steady agricultural yields, must be given top priority by the Government. Another crucial activity that requires more attention and nurturing is land terracing. Because of its steep topography, Nagaland is vulnerable to severe soil erosion, which decreases agricultural output and depletes valuable topsoil. By investing in land terracing, the Government can significantly mitigate soil erosion, conserve water and enhance the land’s agricultural potential. The State’s farming practices can be transformed and made more sustainable and efficient by implementing modern agricultural technologies. Precision farming can help farmers optimise inputs such as water, fertilisers and pesticides, thereby increasing productivity and reducing environmental impact. Furthermore, the incorporation of contemporary organic methods and technologies can further strengthen Nagaland’s already notable progress in promoting organic farming. Globally, and Nagaland included, agriculture is severely threatened by climate change. To assist farmers in adjusting to the negative consequences of climate change, the State Government needs to put strong climate adaptation plans into place. This entails creating crop types that are adaptable to climate change, improving weather forecasting tools and assisting farmers in implementing climate-smart farming methods. Moreover, protecting and conserving the environment is crucial. The river ecosystems of Nagaland are endangered by pollution, unsustainable land use and climate change. These ecosystems are essential for irrigation and biodiversity. To safeguard these rivers and encourage environmentally conscious land management techniques, the State Government must introduce strict laws.