Day 33 – Q 5.What role can technology play in addressing the challenges of food security in India? Illustrate.
5. What role can technology play in addressing the challenges of food security in India? Illustrate.
भारत में खाद्य सुरक्षा की चुनौतियों को दूर करने में प्रौद्योगिकी की क्या भूमिका हो सकती है? उदाहरण देकर स्पष्ट करें।
Food security will remain a worldwide concern for some time in future. In words of FAO, ‘food Security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.’
There has been no significant jump in crop yield in many areas stressing the need for higher investments in research and infrastructure, as well as addressing the issue of water scarcity.
Challenges of food security:
- Availability of food grains at affordable price: Total food grain production in India is estimated at 281.37 million tonnes during 2018-19. Considering the continuous increase in the population of India, will require 333MT of food grains by 2050 to maintain food security. Land and water resources are limited hence remains one of the major challenge.
- Crop diversification: It reduced the area under food grains and pulses where as there is increase in area under the fruits, vegetables and oil seeds.
- Climate change: Climate change is a crucial factor affecting food security in many regions including India. The changing climate will influence the food grain production in different ways. For example, deficit rainfall or flooding. Similarly, extreme high or low temperatures result in variations in the length of crop growing season.
- Land and Water resource Utilisation: The mismatch between the expanding demand for and supply of water emerging and spreading steadily over space and time.
- Dietary Patterns: It was reported that ever increasing human population coupled with their changing dietary preferences significantly increased global demand for food and thereby generating tremendous pressure on native vegetation and ecosystems.
- Bio fuels and Medicinal plants: One of the main reasons for food security crisis at global level is the diversion of agricultural lands that were used for cultivating maize and wheat to bio-fuel and medicinal plants.
Role of technology for food security in India:
One of the best ways to ensure food security in future is investing in new technologies that enable farmers to connect with information and institutions that can decrease uncertainty and mitigate risk.
- Connectivity and Information decimation: The Gramin Krishi Mausam Seva of Earth System Science Organisation-Indian Meteorological Department has been successful in providing the crop specific advisories to the farmers through different print/visual/Radio/IT based media including short message service (SMS) and Interactive Voice Response Service (IVRS) facilitating for appropriate field level actions.
- Alert and real time weather forecast: Promotion of conservation farming and dry land agriculture, with each village provided with timely rainfall forecasts, along with weather-based forewarnings regarding crop pests and epidemics in various seasons, is necessary. With adoption of drought-tolerant breeds that could reduce production risks by up to 50%.
- Government initiatives: Krishi Vigyan Kendra organizes programs to show the efficacy of new technologies on farmer fields. It tests seed varieties or innovative farming methods, developed by ICAR institutes. This allows new technologies to be tested at the local level before being transferred to farmers.
- GM crops to increase production: Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are another important innovation in helping to increase agricultural productivity and to meet food demand.
- Secure seeds and fertilisers: The concepts of integrated nutrient management and integrated pest management have attained significance in the context of sustaining soil fertility and environmental protection. However, the realization of crop yields may take longer under these sustainable agricultural technologies.
- Geo tagging of rural infrastructure projects will help to reduce the corruption and in way money can be used for increasing production and ensure food security.
- Financial inclusion of farmers via JAM trinity: Enabling the quick and secure transfer of funds, mobile-banking services allow producers to access markets more efficiently, reduce their transaction costs, and tap into higher-value market sectors.
- The options for combining crop component with animal component such as integrated rice-fish farming may be explored which would result in additional net returns to the farmers without affecting the food security.
Global Hunger Index of 2019, India ranked 102nd out of 117 countries and this report is quite disturbing because India is one of the largest producers of food in the world. To achieve Sustainable development goal of ending hunger by 2030, food security in India can be achieved by paying higher attention to technology driven solutions with farmer as central pivot.