Conservation Agriculture: For Who’s Benefit?

The fourth World Congress on Conservation Agriculture (from February 4-7, 2009) was held inward New Delhi. This comes at a fourth dimension when global agriculture is faced amongst a terrible crisis inward sustainability.

At the human face upwards of it, it looks that agricultural scientists all over the world are forthwith trying to mend ways, trying to larn from the farmers on the demand to conserve natural resources amongst a stance to ameliorate efficiency, equity in addition to environment. The unprecedented global nutrient crisis inward the kickoff one-half of 2008, in addition to the continuing agrarian crisis inward India, I idea had brought virtually this alter inward their thinking in addition to approach.

It didn’t convey me long to realise that I was wrong. They haven’t learnt anything from the agriculture debacle, nor are they serious inward tackling the key crisis of sustainability that agriculture is faced with. Using the right vocabulary, in addition to ensuring it is politically right they receive got forthwith come upwards up amongst some other buzzword — Conservation Agriculture. It looks so appropriate in addition to timely, that for i time yous experience similar patting agriculture scientists. ‘Better belatedly than never’ yous would say.

It isn’t so. Conservation Agriculture is all virtually “sustainable agricultural intensification” – in addition to I wonder how intensive farming practices tin live termed sustainable? At this rate, I wouldn’t live surprised if inward the nigh futurity they start promoting chemic pesticides nether the garb of “sustainable pesticides use”. Coming back, wasn’t Green Revolution all virtually intensive farming, wasn’t it aimed at increasing cropping intensity, increasing per unit of measurement productivity?

Conservation Agriculture is inward reality virtually no tillage. At least, that is what appears every bit of now. It is based on minimal soil disturbance, organic residual retentiveness in addition to crop rotations. It is believed that the shift to zilch tillage or minimal tillage volition non disturb the soil in addition to thus attention inward conserving natural resources. In a terra firma where earthworms are integral to the soils, I idea earthworms were the nature’s tillers. If nature had provided us amongst tillers where does zilch tillage comes in. Moreover, Bhaskar Save tells us that earthworms plough only about vi tonnes of soil inward its brusk lifespan. Doesn’t Zero tillage, therefore, audio unfamiliar inward the Indian context?

But at that topographic point must live some argue for promoting zilch tillage? Otherwise, why should GM seed companies similar Mahyco (which collaborates amongst Monsannto for GM enquiry inward India) sponsor a dinner for the Congress delegates?

GM crops are also part of Conservation Agriculture.

You guessed it right. Zero tillage has brought virtually its ain ready of industry. And that is what primarily interest’s agricultural scientists. Among the novel conservation technologies required are: Laser terra firma leveller, which is so far beingness imported but some of its parts are forthwith beingness fabricated locally; Zero till planters, including the instant generation ‘Happy Seeders’ in addition to ‘Turbo Seeders;’ Rotatory Disc Drill used for intensive soil working; in addition to of shape a attain of herbicides.

These equipments receive got been suitably modified in addition to redesigned. Among the planter prototypes, yous forthwith receive got the multifunctional-multicrop-ferti-seed-zero till/raised bed planters. Before yous endeavour to empathize its multifunctional operations, yous realise at that topographic point are 150 fabricators in addition to entrepreneurs breathing downward your neck. And that makes me wonder why agriculture scientists do non intend beyond costly equipments in addition to chemicals? Why do they receive got to rely on imported concepts of sustainability in addition to the engineering scientific discipline options? Why can’t they hold off inwards, search for the wonderful depression external input technologies that farmers receive got perfected over the years?

The reply is that the manufacture does non gain when yous promote depression external input technologies. And when the manufacture is non interested how tin the scientists live promoting LEISA practices. Scientists thus are really non working for farmers. Farmers only hap to live incidental, came inward handy to promote the machines, chemicals in addition to the hybrid/GM seeds. For instance, it has taken a lot of world delineate per unit of measurement area for the Indian Council fof Agricultural Research (ICAR) to lastly convey SRI engineering scientific discipline every bit an altertaive rice tillage practice. Why it took so long was primarily because at that topographic point was no manufacture supporting the SRI technology, no auto to live sold. (Also see: The Politics of Farm Technologies http://www.indiatogether.org/2005/oct/dsh-poltech.htm in addition to some other article ‘Seeds in addition to Robbers’ available on http://www.stwr.org/food-security-agriculture/seeds-and-robbers.html)

If exclusively scientists listened to farmers, spent to a greater extent than fourth dimension to empathize in addition to and then improving the sustainable farming systems that farmers receive got evolved, the human face upwards of Indian agriculture would receive got been ever-smiling. Farmers receive got all the answers, in addition to tin demo us the mode towards sustainable agriculture, wherein the natural resources base of operations remains protected in addition to preserved. They receive got done it for ages.

We do non demand an agriculture which is subject upon external inputs. We do non demand an agriculture that destroys the soil health, mines the groundwater in addition to contaminates the environment. We don’t demand an agriculture where farmers are pauperised in addition to the service providers rake inward money. We demand a farming organization where the entire input needs of the farming community should live locally available from inside a radius of 100 Kms. We demand a sustainable farming organization which is economically viable, where coin flows into the pockets of the tillers. We demand agriculture where farmers don’t intend of quitting farming. Only in addition to then tin agriculture expire really sustainable. #