Sustainable Agriculture – A Lok Sanjh Foundation’s Approach in Pakistan. (Prof. Qamar Mohy-Ud-Din) • Why Sustainable Agriculture. • The current food crisis the world over has emerged due to experiencing sustainable agriculture by only a few thousand communities.
The farmers and communities adopting regenerative technologies have substantially improved agricultural yields, after only using few or no external inputs 2. The History of Modernized Agriculture. • Agricultural modernization has helped to transform many rural communities. These include the loss of jobs, the further disadvantaging of women economically,
the increasing specialization of livelihoods, and the growing gap between the well-off and the poor etc. All countries including Pakistan, where the Green Revolution has had a significant impact have seen average annual growth rates in the agricultural sector fall during the 1980s, compared with the post revolution period of 1965-1980.
3. What is Sustainable Agriculture. Many terms are used to describe sustainable agriculture. These include regenerative, low external input, resource-conserving, natural, eco-agriculture, and organic agriculture etc. All these terms characterize the greater use of local resources and knowledge. The sustainable agriculture makes better use of internal natural control processes and resources.
These include biological, cultural and mechanical methods instead using pesticides for controlling pests, weeds and diseases; use of livestock manures, composts and nitrogen-fixing crops instead of inorganic fertilizers; information of management decisions should come from local resources instead of input suppliers; and locally generated energy resources should substitute the fossil fuels.
4 Successful Application of Sustainability • Sustainability requires that we look closely at the very nature of the way we conceptualize sustainability and how it might be achieved. • Sustainable agriculture needs agricultural professionals willing and able to learn from farmers; it needs supportive external institutions; it needs local groups and institutions capable of managing resources effectively; and above all it needs agricultural policies that support these features.
5. The Transition to Sustainable Agriculture • The basic challenge for sustainable agriculture in the Green Revolution areas, is to maintain yields at current levels, while reducing environmental damage. • In the low input systems, diverse and complex lands, the challenge is to increase yields per hectare while not damaging natural resources.
The evidence from farms and communities from all over the world shows that agriculture can only be persistent and sustainable when resource conserving technologies are developed and used by local institutions and groups, who are supported by external research, extension and development institutions acting in an enabling way. • For sustainable agriculture to spread, the wider policy environment must too be enabling.
6. Obstacles, Threats and Uncertainties. • The greatest challenge will be to ensure that the biases of the current development paradigm are not repeated, with the poorest and disadvantaged once again marginalized by improvements. The threats occur form international to local levels.
At international level, markets and trade policies (e.g. WTO agreements) have been tending to depress commodity prices, so reducing returns to farmers and economies. Agrochemical companies, too, will be seeking to protect their markets against alternatives that imply reduced use of their products.
At national level, macro and micro economic policies that hinder the development of a sustainable agriculture have to be targeted and changed. In some cases, this will be politically very difficult, particularly when it comes to implementing land reforms (as in Pakistan), which would give farmers the security to invest in sustainable practices.
The bureaucratic nature of large institutions is a further threat. They face difficulties in try to work in a way that empowers local communities, as this implies giving up some power. • The conservative nature of universities and teaching institutions is an obstacle to train agricultural professionals capable of working with and for farmers.
Farmers themselves face transition costs in the process of adopting sustainable agricultural practices and technologies, and acquiring new management and learning skills. 7 A Lok Sanjh Foundation’s Approach to Sustainable Agriculture. • In this section we will explain how the Lok Sanjh Foundation is heading towards
sustainable agriculture by reducing the cost of production and increasing yields in complex and diverse agriculture, and maintaining yields in Green Revolution areas. 7.1Mission Statement of Lok Sanjh • People centered development to reduce poverty, enhance food security through • strengthening local democracy, empowering women and sustainable use of natural resources
Lok Sanjh started working with farming communities in 1996. The idea was to find solutions to the problems inherited from the Green Revolution (GR) technologies. It was generally believed by the farming community that GR has negatively affected resource base and biodiversity. The globalization, WTO and other developments have further exacerbated the situation.
The food production systems that farmers developed over generations got directly under threat. Farmers were facing falling farm prices and rising costs of production. Thus rural poverty had increased. Small and landless farmers were more food insecure than before. • Lok Sanjh developed a strategy to build farmers’ capacity using local knowledge and the success stories from elsewhere in South
Asia in pest management soil rebuilding, and companion crop technology, many local plants-based formulations were prepared and tested in farmers’ fields. Access to local seeds was considered important and seed banks were developed with the active participation of farmers, particularly with women farmers. Women farmers were got engaged in vegetable production, goats farming and poultry production.
At present Lok Sanjh is working in more than 130 villages in nine districts of Punjab, Kashmir and with partners in NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan. At national level, Lok Sanjh is member of Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG), a network of more than thirty like minded organizations working on sustainable agriculture.
7.2Lok Sanjh means working together with the people • Lok Sanjh is working with rural communities for the last twelve years and has the experience to build capacity of the poor to use their skills to create their own wealth of opportunities to be out of poverty. • Strategies Followed by Lok Sanjh.
i) Village Food Security Programme i) Motivated farmers to change from conventional to ecological farming. Lowers cost of production, increases income and reduces poverty. ii) Motivated farmers to adopt biodiversity system instead of mono-cropping to ensure food security. iii) Increased organic food production for domestic use and marketing.
ii) Farmers Field School To build capacity of farmers & Training in i) Making Compost ii) Making bio-pesticides • Adopting IPM technology. iii) Green House Technology Involved farmers to produce off-season vegetables for domestic use and marketing ……. increased income.
iv) Seed Bank With introduction of hybrid seeds local and farmer seeds were vanishing. Farmers were at the mercy of multinationals. Lok Sanjh: i) Mobilized farmers to build and save own seed by developing seed banks. • Involved women in seed saving. • Farmers exchanged seed and saved money to buy seed from market
v) Raising Nurseries • Farmers trained in raising nurseries of vegetables, crops, forest trees, fruit trees and medicinal plants. • Income of farmers increased and used the leaves of Neem to make biopesticides. vi) Farmers Research Farms • Promoted ecological agriculture for demonstration to other farmers
Promoted biodiversity instead of mono-cropping. • It required less water, less pest attack. • Farmers selected best varieties of Rice, Wheat and Vegetables. vii) Strengthening Local Democracy • Lok Sanjh engaged local government and public representatives in development planning of villages. • Involved communities in environment friendly activities.
viii) Marketing Support As organic production is increasing Lok Sanjh is helping farmers to market their produce at premium price in the market. ix)Village Eco Club & School Eco Clubs • Mobilized people to take care of environment of village and keeping it clean. Farmers, teachers and elected councilors were involved. • Establishment of eco clubs in the schools.
x) Youth Empowerment & Support. Lok Sanjh mobilized young generation. • By involving students in eco-friendly activities. • Arranged school debates and games & developed competition and positive thinking in youth. xi) Farmers Rights Programme. • Establishment of Dehqan (Small farmer) assembly.
Arranged farmers’ Rally on food sovereignty, GMOs, Plant Breeders’ Rights ordinance etc. xii) Women in Agriculture and Development Alternatives (WADA) • Goats and poultry distributed to widows and poor women. • Encouraged women to develop kitchen gardening.
xiii) Grain Bank • Established to make the small farmers food secure & decrease their dependency on market. xiv) Water Harvesting • In rain fed areas ponds were constructed to conserve rain water and use for growing vegetables. xv) Health Camp • Health Camps were conducted for women and children.