Agri Business

‘Changing crop pattern with an eye on profits will lead to farm distress’

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on January 15, 2018

Water conservationist Rajendra Singh   -  Debasish Bhaduri

The practice of growing ‘thirsty’ crops such as sugarcane and paddy in areas with scanty rains, will not only lead to depletion of underground water but also add to the woes of farmers.

According to Rajendra Singh, water conservationist from Rajasthan, driven by profit motive, farmers end up sowing crops which may not be really viable in terms of the pattern and distribution of rainfall in a State.

Drawing attention to an increasingly large number of farmers in Maharashtra growing sugarcane and their counterparts in Punjab and Haryana sowing paddy just to fetch more money, he said such unsustainable agricultural practices will eventually lead to farm distress.

Studying rain pattern

“The pattern of rainfall in Punjab and Haryana does not support paddy cultivation; neither is Maharashtra suited for growing cane. Farmers who are engaging in such practices are bringing about ecological disaster,” Singh told BusinessLine on the sidelines of the Sustainability and Business Conference organised by the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta here recently.

Global warming and climate change have altered the rainfall pattern in several parts of the country.

Farmers should understand the rainfall pattern and its distribution and grow crops accordingly rather than depending on underground water which is fast depleting.

“Our underground reservoirs are turning empty today. If farmers are not careful, we may not have enough water for our future generations,” he said.

Such unsustainable agricultural practices also pushes farmers into a debt trap as they try to cultivate crops, which are not suitable for a particular region, at any cost. This eventually leads to farm suicides, he said.

Sustainable development

According to Singh, any form of development should be sustainable in nature. “Development should be displacement, destruction and disaster-free,” he said.

India Inc has an important role to play in promoting such sustainable development.

“Companies should come up with community-driven decentralised management plan to promote sustainability particularly in relation to nature,” he said.

Institutes such as IITs and IIMs can help build the bridge between community and corporate.

According to him, Indian education system is teaching ‘extraction and exploitation’ of nature; there is not much focus on nutrition or management of nature.

“There needs to be a change at the curriculum level to promote sustainable management of nature,” he said.

Published on January 15, 2018

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