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Sustainable Green Revolution By A. Roy, Marketing Director, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd.

Green revolution era of mid sixties laid the foundation of modern agriculture in India, and later it continued with the same vigor up till now. This is a journey of more than over four decades. It assisted India to make self sufficient in food and even met the aspirations of increasing population. The personnel associated with the green revolution needs to be saluted, farmers in particular who have reposed faith in the agricultural system in the country. The outcome of green revolution is well documented, and therefore do not need its mention again for the sake of brevity.  The record food grains production of 257.44 million tonnes achieved during 2011-12 is the testimony of hard work put in by all those was associated in the process, needs appreciation. However, it is worth mentioning that ground situation today is significantly different from the time when so called green revolution was brought about.

The soil was virgin and sustained crop productivity over decades but now it is showing signs of fatigue due to skewed pattern of fertilizer use specially nitrogen over other nutrients (P and K) due to indifferent policy atmosphere, occurrence of multi-nutrient deficiencies due to excessive nutrient mining, thus restricting crop productivity potential. The journey of last over four decades has thus witnessed some aberrations in food grains production. In addition we often attribute low productivity to the erratic distribution of monsoon. However, the available technology has resilience to mitigate such undulations and assisted in achieving sustainability in agriculture to a limited extent. The achievement of 257.44 mt in year 2011-12 needs to be sustained; therefore lot needs to be done on the front of sustainable agriculture to eradicate hunger and malnutrition from this country.

Indian agriculture will always face the onslaught of either flood and or drought condition simultaneously occurring in one or the other part of country. This is inevitable. Therefore, location specific cost effective proven agro technology should be disseminated up to the last mile to harness its benefit. This is indeed a precursor for sustainable agricultural development. The scope of agriculture should not be restricted to crop production only, but its ambit should be further extended to cover other areas viz. animal husbandry, agro forestry, horticulture, farm mechanization, pisciculture etc., as per the location to support livelihood of the farmers. Some of these areas are popularly called as white revolution, yellow revolution and blue revolution.  The thrust areas should be extended to other areas like farm mechanization, food processing, marketing, infrastructure development, in mission mode approach. Rain fed areas needs special attention and policy support to hand hold the farmers during difficult times. As incremental crop production will mainly come from rain fed areas, as the plateau in crop productivity has almost reached in irrigated areas. There is a need to bring about consolidation in our achievements made so far.

Sustainable agriculture revolves around soil health and water management. To be precise, both water and nutrients use efficiencies needs to be increased simultaneously. This should be duly supported by adequate supply of inputs and transfer of technology. Farmers are not only facing onslaught of weather conditions, but also many other constraints viz. soil testing services / awareness about efficient use of inputs and their supply / availability of organic manure / lack of access to agro technology and most important is the distress sale of farm produce, thus straining economic viability of farming. The last point needs a protective cover to make further headway in bringing sustainability in agriculture. All these components, and there could be many more, needs to integrated and therefore should form part of sustainable green revolution. In order to bring stability in sustainable agriculture development, it is important to closely examine the practices of the farmers in different farming systems and suggest implementable interventions, ensuring timely availability of input in adequate quantity at consuming point with the backup of extension services duly supported by output price commensurate with inputs.

IFFCO's Approach

a. “SAVE THE SOIL” campaign: Based on above mentioned approach, IFFCO has selectively implemented some of the programmes / activities in over 600 IFFCO villages through its All India Soil Rejuvenation and Productivity Enhancement Project, concluding that sustainability in agriculture is possible with the efficient use of available resources. The programmes / activities undertaken are as under:

Soil testing (1.5 lakh soil samples annually)

Recycle / incorporation of crop residue

Installation of biogas  (262)

ON FARM preparation of organic manure – vermicompost, compost, phospho sulpho nitro compost (15,000 pits), FYM

Soil reclamation (1327 ha)

Inclusion of green manure (10,826 ha) / pulses in cropping system

Use of bio fertilizer as a component of INM

Water resource development (check dam, lift irrigation; renovation / desilting of water bodies / tube wells / open well etc, 300 nos. approx.) and water conserving devices (drip (1000 nos.) / sprinkler system (38 nos.), irrigation pipes to minimize conveyance losses of water)

Crop diversification

Protected cultivation (17 polyhouse and shadenet)

Indigenous production of value added fertilisers

Neem coated urea

Water soluble fertilizers (17:44:0, 18:18:18)

Zinc sulphate monohydrate (33% Zn)

Fortified fertilizers

Use of farm implements / equipments (654 nos. through 86 Cooperatives)

Publicity to create mass awareness.

Impact: Various above interventions lead to yield increase of 15-25% in various crops.

IFFCO has created centres of excellence in some pockets, this however needs to be replicated in larger perspective. In order to achieve sustainable green revolution, some of the suggestive key areas for implementation are as under:

Soil testing for INM / SSNM

Use of INM comprising of biofertilisers, organic sources of nutrients, fertilizers, farm waste material

Use of HYVs / hybrids of various crops

Water resource development / water saving devices

Review of recommended package of practices of crops and other farm enterprises

Implementation of integrated intensive farming system approach

In the face of changing labour scenario, promote use of farm implements / equipments

Transfer of technology through farmer friendly programmes

Supportive Govt. policies in the areas of credit, storage, input – output prices

Involvement of cooperatives in sustainable agriculture development in the areas of soil testing; input supply, procurement of farm output, value addition of farm produce, custom hire of agro equipments / implements to bring in efficiency in farm operations. The cooperatives need to be provided more autonomy to expand their business activities to meet the aspirations of farmers of their area of operation.

I extend a cordial invitation to those who have found IFFCO’s efforts worthwhile, to visit some of the sites to appreciate the efforts required for implementation of programmes / activities related to sustainable agriculture development.
The success of IFFCO’s initiative has to be understood and appreciated that the situation is not as helpless as appears.  Technology has the required resilience to address the issue.  The solution is not beyond reach.  What is needed is the conviction and self belief.  However, the magnitude of the effort necessary is vast and, therefore, thrust from the Govt. Departments in the right direction is need of the hour to make a significant change of attitude towards sustainable agriculture.

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