Sustainable Achievement Needed For Food Security
Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque :
Agriculture in sustainable ways (meeting society's food and textile needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs) based on an understanding of ecosystem services, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It is a long-term methodological structure that incorporates profit, environmental stewardship, fairness, health, business and familial aspects on a farm setting. It is defined by 3 integral aspects which are: economic profit, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Sustainability focuses on the business process and practice of a farm in general, rather than a specific agricultural product. The integrated economic, environmental, and social principles are incorporated into a "triple bottom line" (TBL); when the general impacts of the farm are assessed. Unlike a traditional approach where the profit-margin is the single major factor; Agriculture sustainability is also involved with the social and environmental factors.
Agricultural development project cannot bypass the burning issue like the survival of the small farmers and the landless. Their maladies have accentuated due to perennial neglect the non-monetized and stagnant rural economy suffer. Landholding in our country has long been subdivided and fragmented due to the operation of the law of inheritance. Population pressure over land has become unmanageable. The result is fast increasing of the number of marginal farmers and the farmers with no arable land. Those without land till cultivate plot either as wage earners or share croppers. The pre-existing process of production based lopsided economic relationship can hardly provide any incentives to the marginal farmers.
Low productivity of the poor farmers as 'farm labourers' may be attributed to the stingy benefits offered to this toiling working class that cannot be called incentives as such. The small farmers hard pressed by increasing marginalization sell their land thus creating 'uneconomic size of land'. The phenomenon of small holding estate poses a threat to food security. Capital investment on intensive cultivation for producing enough food has been in doldrums in the context of devastating flood that visit every year during monsoon.
The poor farmers have been brought into policy fold under this institutional safety umbrella. Awakening of the small farmers and the landless to buttress their organization potentials to the desired level can help them to be self-supporting backed by an institutional agency. They will be able to change their outlook, attitude and approach. There needs to be action research under the aegis of small holder agricultural programme with full sequence of data collection; time series data, compilation, analysis, documentations and participatory assessment methods.
True scores of marginal farmers' families suffer tremendous economic losses because of - flood and super cyclone after the end of winter season. The vulnerability of the marginal farmers in the coastal belt beggars description. It has been reported by business desk, the New Nation that "Small holder farmers in developing countries, who are working to grow more food in some of the world's most marginalized areas, are already facing more job and livelihood challenges due to severe weather such as droughts and floods".
Alarmingly the number of landless and sharecropper has registered an upward trend according to the report of the recent agricultural census. There has been sharp decrease in the size and number of agricultural farms. Realizing that environment degradation stemming from climate change cannot be reversed they think agricultural development rather in indigenous settings keeping in mind sustainability context.
Sustainability in agricultural development warrants indigenous knowledge. Indigenous knowledge is the unique knowledge confined to a particular culture or society. It is also known as local knowledge, folk knowledge, people's knowledge, traditional wisdom or traditional science. This knowledge is generated and transmitted by communities, over time, in an effort to cope with their own agro-ecological and socio-economic environments. It is generated through a systematic process of observing local conditions, experimenting with solutions and readapting previously identified solutions to modified environmental, socio-economic and technological situations. Indigenous knowledge is passed from generation to generation, usually by word of mouth and cultural rituals, and has been the basis for agriculture, food preparation and conservation, health care, education, and the wide range of other activities that sustain a society and its environment in many parts of the world for many centuries.
(Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque, Professor (rtd), Chattogram University)