The negative consequences of input-intensive and unsustainable agricultural practices in India can be nullified by transitioning to Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture (LEISA). Discuss.

The Green revolution catalyzed heavy use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, as well as water. Indian food security improved, yet there has been degradation of ecology and increasing indebtedness of farmers.

Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture minimizes use of inputs, while aiming for higher yields.

  • Increasing water use efficiency is one means.
  • Some states have adopted organic farming, e.g. Sikkim.
  • Maharashtra and Karnataka have encouraged Zero Budget Natural Farming relying on organic fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Cow dung is used to prepare many inputs.
  • Microbial solutions help get rid of pests.

The cumulative benefits of these methods are:

  • Water use reduced due to micro-irrigation, systematic rice intensification etc.
  • It will help deal with impending water scarcity. By 2050, India will be water stressed.
  • Lower use of chemical fertilizers help in preserving soil fertility over longer periods.
  • Reducing soil and water pollution. Earlier agricultural runoff led to eutrophication in lakes.
  • Using bio-pesticides helps preserve soil biodiversity and microbes that are useful to man.
  • Food web can be safeguarded. Risk of pesticide residue accumulating in food products is lower.
  • Low input use protects farmer from indebtedness, and farmer suicides are reduced.
  • Export potential – Agricultural produce with low pesticide/fertilizer residue can meet stringent quality norms of USA and European Union. Improving agricultural exports will help improve farmers’ income.

Food security is a key goal for India. Simultaneously, SDG-2 calls for adopting agricultural practices that preserve soil, water and local biodiversity. Thus LEISA should be used without endangering food security.

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