Plant diversity is a “treasure chest” for raising the healthiest & productive crops. 93% of the plant and seed diversity were lost in the last century. High Yielding Variety (HYV) and Modern Variety (MV) are usually monocropped, and dumping of the substantial amount of pesticides, insecticides and inorganic fertilizers was consummated. Most of the Biotechnology researches are biased on agribusiness rather than conventional farming.
These researches are producing sterile seeds by Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT), reducing the genetic diversity and also trailing unintended consequences. Another dispute is the scarcity of seeds and lower seed replacement rate (SRR). Moreover, inadequate supply of seeds, due to shortages, continues to be a problem. Seed bank, also suffer from severe limitations: they are very expensive, lack adequate space to store the exhaustive genetic diversity found in agriculture, and suffer loss of viability of stored germplasm.
Well-adapted livestock is an essential factor of agricultural production systems. The famous “white revolution”, started in the 1970s, doubled the amount of milk available per person in India and caused the extinction of indigenous breeds. Semen of exotic breeds is usually stored and distributed, thus encouraging the crossbreeding. As a consequence, the population of the indigenous breeds declined by 8.94% .The focus on crossbreeding has increased the productivity of dairy cattle by enhanced milk production, culminated in increased use of agrochemicals, mainly antibiotics and anti-parasite drugs.
The agriculture sector’s contribution is consistently decreasing from more than 45% of GDP by engaging 80% of people during independence to 18% by engaging about 49% of people in 2014. As a result, agriculture has become less competitive and scorning both public and private investments, funding and ventures. Native crops like Millets & cereals are getting neglected compared to commercial varieties even in research and development. Consequentially, reduced nutritional values of food, disruption of biodiversity are a contingency.
The hunger Index report also predicts that India is unlikely to achieve SDG 2 by 2030, because of a slump in production and storage; coordination and unclear data. So, Hunger and malnutrition have been big challenges since independence. Currently, about 190 million people in India are in hunger; 30.7% of children are underweight; 25% of children are malnourished; 51% of women are anemic. Macronutrient malnutrition (Protein-energy malnutrition), Micronutrient malnutrition (VAD, IDA, IDD, Zinc) are more prevalent. Clinical Vitamin A Deficiency has descended in the past 40 years, but the subclinical level vitamin A deficiency and micronutrient deficiency are more prevalent throughout the country. To overcome the hunger, Green revolution was implemented for increasing yield, but it turned out into silent hunger (malnutrition). It also resulted in the loss of soil fertility, disruption of soil ecology. Besides, mechanized agriculture increased the soil tillage resulting in soil erosion, low microbial flora and fauna. Farmers and consumers are becoming dependent on intermediates; hence their earnings are becoming a crisis.
About 80% of farmers cultivate in less than 1 hectare of land; most of the food staples are monsoon dependent and crop rotation is also not followed extensively. The threats for agro-processing are inadequately developed linkages between R&D labs and industry, High requirement of working capital, Remuneration less attractive for talent in comparison to contemporary disciplines.
1/3rd of the grains are lost due to substandard warehousing; lack of alignment of capacity with cargo flows, lack of scale-up, lack of services required to enable value addition, inadequate level of automation are the major crisis. Improper automation systems in storage and logistics are throttling even distribution and usage of food commodities. Globally there is an increase in the food and feed demand. India is already importing 50% edible oils and 15-20% pulses. Food production and consumption in the country is becoming more spatially disconnected and relying more on international trade. The above mentioned are the crux of the matter for achieving SDG 2.
STEPS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT:
The conservation of biodiversity in crop production systems is inherently linked to the sustainable use and preservation of seeds. Seed repositories are intended to enable the conservation of the crop genetic diversity against the ‘genetic erosion' of crops. Seeds are cryogenically frozen, to avoid loss of viability. For long-term conservation, however, seed samples are ‘regenerated’ by germinating some of the sample for fresh seed for depository and dissemination. National Seeds Corporation (NSC) is producing, processing, and marketing the agricultural seeds through state and local bodies. Indian Government initiated Rashtriya Gokul Mission, National Mission on Bovine Productivity, National Dairy Plan-I, and Breed Improvement Institutes; after detailed consultations with States and all the stakeholders for increasing the population of native domesticated animals.
In order to endorse private sector participation in agriculture, the government allowed 100 % foreign direct investment (FDI) in several segments of the agriculture sector. Number of schemes sponsored by the Central government also intended to increase agricultural production and overall to increase the income of farmers. National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) involved in increasing the productivity. New agriculture policy of India aims at sustainable agriculture, which is popularly called ‘Evergreen Revolution’.
To improve nutritional content in food products, steps are taken towards universal food fortification. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) ensures that the manufacturers are fortifying the food legitimately. Bi-annual vitamin-A Supplementation, Anganwadi Centers (AWCs), Weekly Iron & Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) are some of the programs that are organized by the government. It is being increasingly realized that agriculture is no longer a subsistence activity carried out by peasant cultivators, but rather an enterprise and manufacturer of biomass using land, water, genetic material and the latest in technology. Biotechnology and genetic engineering focuses on both increasing the productivity and quality of the traits.Food processing is one of the developing industries; it has a continuous rise in GDP, with CAGR of 8.4%. Integration and development in contemporary technologies such as electronics, material science, computer, bio-technology etc., offer vast scope for rapid improvement and progress in agro-processing. On farm processing is not widely practiced, but it can increase the income and productivity of the farmer.
The Indian logistics has grown leaps and bounds in last 10 years. India’s rank on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI) improved from 54 in 2014 to 35 in 2016 amongst 160 countries. Warehousing plays an important role in logistics; In current market scenario, more than 80 per cent of warehouses are being built with Pre-Engineered Steel Buildings (PEB) which has taken over the conventional mode of construction mainly because of its various advantages such a low cost, faster return on investment, quicker delivery, quick installation, single source responsibility, low maintenance, flexibility in expansion, earthquake resistance capability, superior quality, etc.
Genetic resources were seen as ‘insurance’ for the future of agriculture, hence seeds can be stored both insitu and exsitu for future availability. Community seed repositories can be more beneficial and also regional variety can be stored. Semen of indigenous breeds can be stored and distributed for increasing the population of indigenous breeds. Establishment of an effective government and private partnership could buttress to achieve sustained agricultural development. Reducing the agrarian crisis and supporting them by improving quality of rural life, developing the agri-infrastructure and developing employment opportunity for rural peoples can increase the GDP of agriculture sector. Agri policies can be inclusive, so that it could increase the productivity simultaneously boost the income of the farmers. Small producers can focus on value addition and larger producers can focus on the advancing the commodity, hence all the stalk holders can be beneficial. Food security including food and nutritional sovereignty should be achieved within the country by implementation of policy interventions for eradication of hunger and malnutrition. Producer company can play a key role in bringing innovate ideas in agroprocessing and also to increase the quality of agro machinery. SMART warehousing technology can be implemented throughout the country for better storage facility.
Working on SDG 2 is crucial because it has impact on attainment of other 16 SDG goals. The base necessity of the people is indispensable for the betterment of the country.