Making agriculture sustainable is the biggest challenge the country faces today. To elaborate on what goes into making a farming venture sustainable and make all stakeholders aware on the subject, a day-long conference on ‘Making Indian Agriculture Sustainable’ was held as part of CII Agro Tech 2016 here on Monday. The three major elements that can contribute to sustainable agriculture, Natural resource management, climate smart agriculture and renewable energy, were discussed threadbare at the conference. Each was discussed at a separate session. “A holistic view needs to be taken of the issue-based on our agriculture system, where animals are also important. I have been driving my own car with biogas as fuel at IIT-Delhi for five years now. An experiment is on for use in two-wheelers as well. We are working towards a day when tractors will run on biogas,” said Professor VK Vijay, CRDT, IIT Delhi. Climate-smart agriculture is more than the sum of its parts and involves giving minute attention to details on operations. For instance, if you end up polluting the environment more in the process of treating rice straw than what rice straw burning itself causes, the idea then is antithetical to the idea of sustainable agriculture, was the broad consensus among panelists at the summit. “Climate sensitive machinery and products are a great business opportunity and as a company we are ready to tap the opportunity in the way we are strategising,” said Ramesh Ramachandran, Sr V-P, strategy and precision farming FES, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.Another idea that came out of the deliberation was the idea of a global insurance as natural disasters could strike anyplace and crop failures anywhere needed to be treated as a joint responsibility.So, to ensure that all agricultural products were certified properly and in a transparent manner, proper certification was necessary.“We need a comprehensive set of policy actions and technology solutions to mitigate climate related risks in agriculture to ensure true sustainability,” said Vivek Bharati, lead, CII Core Group on Ease of Doing Business.The conference also had input from Swarup Beria, principal, Omnivore Partners, who look for opportunities to fund ideas that were sustainable.“It is important to ensure that the process to treat waste and the end-product off such processes is used with sensitivity to environment,” said Sanjeev Nagpal, Convener, CII panel on Agri and Food Processing and MD, Nasa Agro Industries Ltd. On renewable source of energy, the focus was on how to tap these. Experts gave presentations on how such sources are actually practically making a difference, but need to be scaled up. Some of the sources that panelists touched upon in their presentations was solar tunnel drier for use of coconut, chilly and turmeric farmers.Solar power use in a decentralised manner was also a point of deliberation the resource event.
“Sustainability is complex, but we cannot wait for 10 years to get there. The chance is now and we need to reach fast,” said Sanjeev Asthana, lead CII Core Group on Sustainability and Founder and Director, Ifarms Venture Advisors Private Ltd.