– Madan Poudel
Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal
Sustainability has been creating a buzz for a while now, with ever increasing environmental and political concerns. A 1987 UN report known as Our Common Future, defines sustainability as, “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” If we see sustainability under the lens of agriculture, it’s about ensuring safe, nutritious and healthy food availability to the people who need it the most. And as of today, Organic Farming, Permaculture, agro-ecological farming, biodynamic farming has all begun to outshine the conventional agriculture practices.
As we know Industrial agriculture has dominated the landscape for the last 40 years, polluting water and skewing the market place while warming the climate for future generation. The corporate food system is fully centralized and have extended their monopoly from production to the consumption.
This all have led to a crisis, that seems to be approaching in many forms, energy crisis, water crisis, climate crisis and food crisis while debates on this issue have been increasing on present food system.
We all know where the sustainability of our food system lies. It’s not out there in big farms with huge machineries practicing monoculture, heavily tilling the soil destroying its life form without any diversity; this definitely does not harmonize with our natural system!
While the problem of present food system seems outrageously complex, the solutions are yet simple.
Bill Mollison: Father of Permaculture has quoted, “The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone.” It might be hard to believe that we, as individuals, can make much of an impact on the prevailing models of food production and its detrimental effects on the environment.
Much changes can be brought through small scale farming, practicing polycultures, regenerating the previously lost productive landscapes that aims for the creation of social capital and cohesion.
With the emergence of people’s movement towards their right for safe, nutritious and sustainable food system, consumers have been aware on what food they want on their tables and the source of the produce!
Although young people still take farming as the last resort of their career, contrastly there are young farmers mushrooming around the world establishing ecological farms and leading the agendas of sustainable food systems.
We can see, the solution lies in small scale farming where farmers are growing food ecologically, working with nature. The solution for all types of crisis, which now seem unavoidable; as they deviated from natural being, should be brought back to their roots.
All in all, sustainable farming is not a rocket science that needs tremendous intellect or knowledge. It’s beauty is that it can be achieved by our average farmers toiling in their own fields with few twitches in their system and a few modifications. The question is, are they willing and are we willing?