Why Sustainable Agriculture Remains Relevant in the New Economy

Allan Savory and Bren Smith, who spoke in the 35th Annual E.F. Schumacher Lectures that was entitled Cattle & Kelp: Agriculture in a New Economy, suggested that a new approach should be taken towards agriculture.This was in view of the fact that the current approach is not sustainable in the long run due to the prevalent issues of declining soil fertility, soil erosion, drought and super pests.Many innovative companies have also been using agricultural technology to make agriculture sustainable, and have acknowledged the fact that this sector plays a crucial role in the new economy.Agriculture remains relevant today for several reasons. It is widely perceived as the key to feeding the estimated nine billion individuals in the world by 2050, and will also help to increase the number of jobs.1. Sustainable agriculture may be the solution to prevent a looming food crisis.Price volatility and high food prices will result in a food crisis, which places food production issues and agricultural growth back on the development agenda.Both Savory and Smith have developed agricultural models that are based on natural systems. Smith pioneered the development of restorative 3D ocean farming; this farming model was designed with the aim of mitigating climate change, restoring ocean ecosystems and creating jobs for fishermen while also ensuring that communities were supplied with healthy, local food.There are also several companies who are using agricultural technology to prevent a food crisis. According to The Economist, the products and services that these firms are developing will significantly contribute to increasing food yields and quality, which is needed to feed the nine billion individuals living on this planet by 2050.2. Sustainable agriculture will be able to create jobs in the new economyAccording to Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, the agricultural sector has four times the power to create jobs and reduce poverty in Africa as compared to other sectors.Essentially, agriculture can help countries to diversify their economies, be less dependent on food imports, increase jobs, and revive rural areas.
In the United States, despite the fact that agricultural revenue and export opportunities have been high, rural areas have been losing their population. If this were to continue, these areas will lose their economic stability and many of its national assets.However, if the trend is reversed successfully, the economy as a whole can benefit from long-term growth. Rural areas will also prosper. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is therefore investing in the perceived areas of opportunity for agricultural growth; these include supporting new and beginning ranchers and farmers, local and regional food systems, as well as the economy.In conclusion, it is crucial that countries place greater importance on their agricultural sector. Africa, which is currently leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution, has more than 70 percent of its farmers utilising information and communications technology. Additionally, its agricultural and agribusiness industry is projected to hit a net worth of US$1 trillion by 2030.This highlights the need for other countries to improve their agricultural sector, as it can help to decrease food imports and increase job opportunities for their citizens, as well as improve the state of its economy overall.

Can Agriculture Be Replaced by Industries?

Civilization began with agriculture, our nomadic ancestors settled once they began to grow their own food. Agriculture refers to the production of goods through growing of plants, animals and other life forms on land. As of 2006, 45 percent of the world’s population is employed in agriculture. However, the relative significance of farming has dropped since the beginning of industrialization. Even though agriculture employs one-third of the world’s population, agricultural produce accounts for less than 5 percent of the gross world product.Agriculture is important for not only providing food but also for providing raw materials for other industries like textile, sugar, jute, vegetable oil and tobacco. Besides being an occupation for people, agriculture is also a way of living. Most of the world’s customs and culture revolve around agriculture. A number of festivals and holidays around the world are in conjunction with reaping or harvesting or any other aspect of farming. It increases the supply of food and tax revenue to the government. “Investable surplus” is generated which further can be expanded to other industries and provides foreign exchange.Due to the apparent abundance of food owing to technologies for growing, transporting and storage; modern day human has overlooked the fundamental dependence on agriculture. Agriculture provides nutrition which is a key determinant of health; it alleviates poverty and individual livelihood. Some other benefits are:
o Water – agricultural crops are the largest users of fresh water. Forests maintain the groundwater we draw from for our everyday uses. Husbandry affects the health of coastal waters.
o Energy – wood is a major source of fuel and energy. Modern biomass plants are fast growing in most countries. These provide clean energy and also aid economic growth.
o Health – agriculture provides nutrition to humans. We cannot live on meat, milk and poultry for more than 2 days without consuming grains or vegetables or fruits. Imagine what lack of agriculture could do to us.
o Biodiversity – ecological balances are maintained, changed or destroyed by agriculture alone. These are critical to sustaining development and health of our planet.
o Climatic changes – reduced agricultural growth adversely affects climate. Extreme events and ecological dysfunction will ultimately affect our planet and the human race.It is a vicious cycle where environmental degradation is affecting agricultural productivity and agricultural practices are affecting the environment. To conclude agriculture, agricultural science and technology aids in reducing hunger, improving livelihood and increasing economic growth.Indigenous and local agricultural practices need to be used along with scientific research and developments. There should be a co-ordination of international scientific programs for enhancing agriculture and agricultural produce. Policies and technologies that are conducive to sustainable use of natural resources must be shared internationally. It is imperative to alleviate hunger and look for the causes of nutritional insecurity and degraded natural resources. Productivity of crops, livestock and fisheries need to increased in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner which is acceptable to both the farmers as well as the consumers. Agriculture is an important aspect of every society for its social, economic and environmental growth.