Ecological Agriculture for Sustainable Development

3837 words (15 pages) Essay in Environmental Studies

19/10/17 Environmental Studies Reference this

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  • Siddaraju V. G [*]
  • Dr. M. Indira [**]

Introduction

Sustainable development is relevant issue of the present day. Sustainable development refers to development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs. Sustainable development is achieved through sustainable agriculture. Food security for the common man is a basic right. Over 800 millions people in the world suffer from hunger which has to be reduced by half by the year 2015. Agriculture plays a crucial rule in addressing the needs of a growing global population, and is inextricably linked to poverty eradication, especially in developing countries. Sustainable agriculture and rural development is essential to the implementation of integrated approach to increasing food production and enhancing food security in an environmentally sustainable way.

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According to Pingali (2001) many countries across the world provide support for modern agriculture, mainly to increase the productivity for commercial purpose without considering the environment sustainability. Therefore, the concept of sustainability of agriculture is gaining momentum from last few years. The concept of ‘Sustainability’ has been discussed in Earth Summits of 1992 and 2002. The Earth summit offered an opportunity for the global community to address key action on agriculture with a view to sustainability and reducing poverty and hunger, protecting biodiversity and access to resources for small farmers everywhere. Sustainable development has three components i.e., economic sustainability, environmental sustainability and social sustainability. Ecological agriculture addresses the environment or ecological aspects of sustainability. Sustainable agriculture embraces several variants of non-conventional agriculture that are often called organic, alternative, regenerative, and ecological or low input. Ecological agriculture based on ecological principles aim at maintaining or enhancing the quality of the environment and conserve natural resources without using chemical inputs leading to sustainable development. The difference between sustainable agriculture and ecological agriculture is that sustainable agriculture is a broad concept compared to ecological agriculture. Ecological agriculture systems are one of the means of attaining sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture aims continuous increase in yield and greater resilience.

For a sound future, ecological agriculture offers a dynamic interaction between soil, animal, humans, ecosystem and environment.

Ecological agriculture is economically viable because:

  • Reduction in the use of external inputs and increase in farm organic inputs with the greatest potential to benefit the health of farmers and consumers.
  • More productivity through the incorporation of natural process as nutrient cycles, nitrogen fixation, and pest predator relationships in to the agricultural production process.
  • Greater productive use of the biological and genetic potential of plant and animal species.
  • Improvement of the match between cropping patterns and the productive potential and physical limitations of agricultural lands to ensure long term sustainability of current production levels and
  • Profitable and efficient production with emphasis on improved management and conservation of soil, water and energy and biological resources.

The basic requirement in organic farming is to increase input use efficiency at each step of the farm operations. This is achieved partly through reducing losses and adoption of new technologies for enrichment of nutrient content in manure (Sravanan, 2006). The concept of organic farming lays emphasis on economic and ecological sustainability of agricultural system and hence avoids the dependence on chemical pesticides use (Dhawan and Deshmukh, 2005). According to Charjan and Hajare (2002) organic farming is only an alternative, which may not be acceptable on short-term basis, but may be viable on long-term basis, perhaps due to number of issues. An attempt is made in this paper to analyze the economic performance of ecological agriculture and modern agriculture system and to identify the reasons for the transition from modern agriculture to ecological agriculture.

Methodology

The present study is based on primary data collected from 50 ecological farmers and 50 modern farmers in the production of Paddy and Sugarcane in Mysore and Mandya districts of Karnataka. Economic performance of any system could be analyzed by analyzing the costs and returns. In the present study relative economic performance of ecological and modern agriculture is analyzed in terms of Farm Business Income (FBI). Location, distribution of sample farmers is presented in table 1.

Table 1: Particulars of selected district and taluk

District

Taluk

No. of Ecological farmers

No. of Modern Farmers

Mysore

Mysore

16

16

Nanjanagud

9

9

Mandya

Mandya

14

14

Maddur

11

11

The above table shows that Location, distribution of sample farmers. Ecological farmers are located in Mysore and Nanjanagud taluks in Mysore district and Mandya and Maddur taluks in Mandya district. Mysore taluk in Mysore district has the large number of ecological farmers and Mandya taluk in Mandya ditrict has more number of ecological farmers. Equal numbers of modern farmers were selected for comparative analysis.

Analysis and Discussion

Economic Performance

Farm Business Income (FBI) is one of the indicators to measure the economic profitability of an agriculture farm. It has been chosen to understand the relative economic profitability of ecological farming and modern farming systems in the production of selected crops. FBI is the difference between the gross returns and Cost A1.

Farm Business Income = Gross Income – Cost A1

Cost of Cultivation

Average cost and returns under ecological and modern agriculture in the production of paddy and sugarcane are presented below.

Paddy

Average cost per acre in the production of paddy under ecological and modern farming systems, yield per acre, returns from main product and returns from by product, net returns per acre are presented in table 2.

Table 2: Costs and Returns from Ecological and Modern Agriculture in the Production of Paddy

Sl. No.

Particulars

Ecological Agriculture

Modern Agriculture

1

Farm Power

6147

5539

2

Organic Nutrients

1957

655

3

Chemical Fertilizers

 

1030

4

Seed

367

352

5

Irrigation

379

389

6

Land Tax

29

24

7

Depreciation Charge on Farm implements

1018

449

8

Depreciation Charge on machinery

623

603

9

Repair of Machineries

449

233

10

Total Cost of Cultivation

(1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9)

10968

9274

11

Yield (Quintal/acre)

23

22

12

Price Received (Rs/quintal)

639

612

13

Returns from main Product (Rs/acre)

14697

13464

14

Income from by-product (Rs/acre)

1067

786

15

Gross Returns/Rs

(13+14)

15764

14250

16

Net returns/Rs

(15-13)

4796

4975

Source: Survey Data

Gross returns from paddy produced under ecological agriculture found to be marginally higher compared to the paddy produced under modern farming system. While gross returns from ecological agriculture was Rs. 15764 per acre, the same from modern agriculture was Rs. 14250 per acre, a difference of Rs 1514 per acre. But net return was relatively low from ecological agriculture (Rs. 4795 per acre) compared to modern agriculture (Rs. 4975/acre), because cost of cultivation was higher for ecological farms (Rs. 10969 per acre) compared to modern farms (Rs. 9274/acre). Cost of organic nutrients, farm power, farm depreciation charges are higher in ecological agriculture. Marginal differences could be seen in other costs. While organic nutrients were expensive, the transportation of FYM, its administration, transplantation, weeding require more labour, which is reflected in the farm power. Farm depreciation charge is higher in ecological agriculture due to more use of farm equipments. The yield from ecological agriculture was not found to be much higher than modern agriculture. While ecological farms produced 23 quintal/acre, 22 quintal/acre were produced from modern farms. Ecological farmers received Rs. 27 per quintal of paddy, which is slightly higher price than the modern farmers. The yield and price was not much difference under the two methods of cultivation. Therefore, net return also was not much different.

Sugarcane

Sugarcane is a commercial annual crop grown mainly in Mandya and Mysore districts of Karnataka. Average costs and returns in the production of sugarcane is presented in table 3.

Table 3: Costs and Returns under Ecological and Modern Agriculture in the Production of Sugarcane

Sl. No.

Particulars

Ecological Agriculture

Modern Agriculture

1

Farm Power

22589

20441

2

Organic Nutrients

2414

861

3

Chemical Fertilizers

 

3502

4

Seed

1300

1300

5

Irrigation

424

443

6

Land Tax

27

26

7

Depreciation Charge on Farm Implements

1800

3403

8

Depreciation Charge on Machinery

1172

1499

9

Repair of Machineries

500

204

10

Total Cost of Cultivation

(1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9)

30225

31679

11

Yield (Ton/acre)

52

49

12

Price Received (Tonn/Rs)

989

961

13

Gross Returns/Rs

51428

47089

14

Net Returns/Rs

(13-10)

21203

15410

Source: Survey Data

Net returns from sugarcane were found to be higher from ecological farms (Rs. 21202 per acre) compared to modern farms (Rs. 15410 per acre). Similarly the gross returns were Rs. 51428per acre from ecological agriculture and Rs. 47089 per acre from modern agriculture. Relatively higher cost of cultivation in modern agriculture is due to higher cost of chemical fertilizers and farm depreciation charges. Chemical fertilizers like Urea, Potash, Complex and Salt were expensive. Farm depreciation charge is higher in ecological agriculture due to more use of farm equipments. Marginal differences could be seen in other costs except farm power. Because the cost of the transportation of FYM, weeding, harvesting and its administration require more labour, which is reflected in the farm power. The cost of cultivation of sugarcane with modern agriculture is costing Rs. 1454 more per acre. Yield per acre under ecological farming is nearly three ton more than that from modern cultivation and ecological farmers received Rs. 28 higher for one ton of sugarcane than the modern farmers. Higher yield and returns have contributed to higher returns from ecological farming than the modern farming. Net returns from sugarcane under ecological farming are Rs. 5792 more than that from modern agriculture.

Farm Business Income

Farm business income under ecological and modern agriculture in the production of annual crops (paddy and sugarcane) is presented in table 4.

Table 4: Farm Business Income of Annual Crops under ecological and modern farming system

 

Paddy

Sugarcane

Variables

Ecological Agriculture

Modern Agriculture

Ecological Agriculture

Modern Agriculture

Gross Returns

15,764

14,250

51,428

47,089

Cost A1

10,968

9,274

30,225

31,679

Farm Business Income (FBI)

4,796

4,976

21,203

15,410

Source: Survey Data

The above table shows that larger variation in the FBI could be observed in the production of Sugarcane, which is a commercial crop. In the production of Paddy, FBI under ecological farming is marginally lower i.e., by Rs.180. Cost A1 under ecological agriculture is higher by Rs.1694 per acre. However gross returns is higher by Rs.1514 per acre. But in the case of sugarcane, FBI from ecological cultivation is higher by Rs.5, 793 per acre. In the case of sugarcane, cost of cultivation under ecological cultivation is relatively low. It is lower by Rs.1, 454 per acre. Gross returns are higher under ecological agriculture.

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The above analysis clearly shows that ecological agriculture is economically profitable. It has double advantage to the grower; it provides greater returns to the growers at present and ensures the sustainability of these returns in future by protecting the fertility of the soil.

Transition

Transition is the process of conversion from modern agriculture to ecological agriculture. After introduction of all necessary changes needed also, it might take some time before the transition is completed. Modern farming system depends on external inputs and is market oriented. On the other hand ecological farming is based on ecological principles of nature and depends more on inputs produced on farm. The production under ecological agriculture need not necessarily for subsistence. The growers may have several objectives in shifting from modern system of cultivation to ecological system. By understanding the motivation behind the shifting, it is possible to encourage more conversions.

Reasons for Transition Process

Information on what made the selected farmers to switch over to organic farming system from modern farming system was gathered. In many cases majority of the farmers reported that transition from modern agriculture to ecological agriculture was due to the possibility of producing healthy food, environmental protection and soil fertility management under organic farming system. A detailed analysis of Paddy and Sugarcane is presented in table 5.

Table 5: Crop wise Reasons for transition from modern agriculture system to ecological agriculture system

Sl. No

Reasons for transition

Frequency and Percentage

   

Paddy

Sugarcane

1

Cost of cultivation is low

8

(28.6)

10

(35.7)

2

Health

28

(100.0)

23

(82.1)

3

Employment

14

(50.0)

15

(53.6)

4

Soil Fertility Management

20

(71.4)

22

(78.6)

5

Environmental Protection

16

(57.1)

19

(67.9)

6

Yield

18

(64.8)

12

(42.9)

Source: Survey Data,

Note: Values within brackets represent percentage to total growers (Percentage don’t add to 100 due to multiple response)

In recent years paddy farmers are practicing ecological agriculture due to different reasons. According to selected farmers, more than 70 per cent of the total farmers have shifted from modern agriculture to ecological agriculture, in order to maintain soil fertility. According to them, by using cowdung, ash, farm yard manure soil fertility can be maintained for many years. Health is one of the important factors influencing the paddy farmers to shift from modern agriculture to ecological agriculture. According to these farmers ecological food has positive impact on health and to be sure of the supply of organic food, they shifted to ecological agriculture. Paddy farmers also said that ecological agriculture creates more employment compared to modern agriculture. Survey results have shown that employment in ecological agriculture is more by 9 mandays/acre compared to modern agriculture. More than 50 per cent of the total farmers have shifted from modern agriculture to ecological agriculture due to employment. Cost of cultivation is high in ecological agriculture compared to modern agriculture, because initially more investment is required in ecological agriculture. After completion of transition (5 years) gradually cost is decreased in ecological agriculture. Nearly 65 per cent of the ecological paddy farmers said that they shifted due to higher and stable yield that they are expected under ecological agriculture. The results support this and yield under ecological farm is more by 1 quintal per acre.

In the case of sugarcane, 82.1 per cent of the total farmers have shifted from modern agriculture to ecological agriculture because they believe that it leads to healthy life. More than 65 per cent of the total farmers have transformed from modern agriculture to ecological agriculture due to soil fertility maintenance and environmental factors like pollution control, sustainability, water management etc. Sugarcane farmers also opined that ecological agriculture creates more employment compared to modern agriculture. Only 36 per cent of the farmers shifted because they think that cost of cultivation is low under ecological agriculture. In the case of paddy more shifts took place due to ecological factors than economic factors.

The main reasons for transition can be found in environmental sustainability as well as health and soil fertility management. Paddy and sugarcane farmers mainly reported that cost of inputs like chemical fertilizers and pesticides are highly expensive. The results clearly show that the awareness about environmental impact of modern agriculture is the main reason for the farmers to shift to ecological agriculture.

Conclusion

The over all analysis of the study highlights that ecological agriculture is economically profitable compared to modern agriculture. It provides greater returns to the growers at present and ensures the sustainability of these returns in future by protecting the fertility of the soil and enhancing the quality of environment and conserve natural resources. Farm Business Income from ecological agriculture is more due to higher yield and price. It is mainly due to the purchase of organic manure by the growers. Efforts should be made to encourage farmers to keep livestock to produce on farm organic inputs in order to reduce the cost of organic manures. The main reason for transition from modern agriculture to ecological agriculture was the awareness about environment and health. This awareness is limited only to those who are educated. Efforts should be made to create awareness about two aspects of ecological farming i.e., awareness about environmental consequences of ecological farming and economics of ecological agriculture.

References:

  1. CharjanY.D and T.N Hajare (2002), Ecological Agriculture Solves the Problems of Indian Agriculture, Kisan World, l29 (7), pp. 43-4.
  2. Dhawan AS and MS. Deshmukh 92005), Organic Farming in Relation to Environment Pollution, Kisan World, 32(2) February 2005, Pp: 27-28.
  1. Saravanane M et al (2007) “Organic Production SystemKisan World, 34 (03), Pp. 45 – 47, March 2007
  1. Thakur and Sharma KD (2005), Organic Farming for Sustainable Agriculture and Meeting the Challenges of Food Security in 21st Century: An Economic Analysis, Indian Journal of Agriculture Economics, 60 (2), April-June 2005, Pp: 205-219.

1


[*] Senior Research Scholar, Department of Studies in Economics and Cooperation, University of Mysore,

Mysore, Email: [email protected]

[**] Reader, Department of Studies in Economics and Cooperation, University of Mysore, Mysore,

Email: [email protected].

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