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Govt developing a blueprint to reduce fertilizer use, improve soil quality


The government is developing a blueprint to reduce fertilizer use and improve soil quality

As part of its Vision 2047 initiative, the government is developing a plan to reduce fertilizer use, improve soil quality through organic products, diversify crops, and reduce the use of water, nutrients, and energy on farmlands.

The idea, which aims to increase farm output and income, will also help India address the twin problems of a growing population that needs to be fed through higher and more sustainable agricultural production, as well as mitigating the impact of existing farm techniques on climate and soil health, according to a senior government official who spoke to ET on the condition of anonymity.

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Agroecology is the practice of sustainable agriculture or applying ecological concepts and principles to farming. The government is expected to lay out a plan for a gradual transition to agroecological techniques and practices as the country strives to become a Viksit Bharat by 2047. Some of its focus areas could include increased production of high-value crops, with a significant share of millets; production of high-value and climate-resilient crops; minimal or no pesticide use; a shift to organic or natural farming; improved supply chain management; and fiscal support for procurement and marketing.

“We’re working in two different directions. One goal is to increase agricultural productivity, while the other is to ensure sustainable agriculture techniques,” the official said, adding that agroecology and natural farming are the way to go. A recent policy paper by NITI Aayog titled ‘A New Paradigm for Indian Agriculture’ provides evidence of growing unsustainable agriculture and calls for a new paradigm in Indian agriculture through the widespread adoption of agroecological principles.

According to the paper, average farm sizes in India have been decreasing, reducing output, while the extensive use of fertilizers and pesticides has had an impact on soil quality over time. Furthermore, because more than half of the country’s agricultural land is rainfed, crop output is impacted, implying the need for increased irrigation coverage. The Aayog believes that implementing agroecological practices such as natural farming, organic farming, biofuel production, agroforestry, waste recycling, and so on can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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