Farmers are hailed as the bedrock of any society. Before food production became industrialised, nearly everyone either farmed themselves or was closely connected to farming. Every so often, life calls for a lawyer, a doctor, a policeman, or perhaps a preacher. Yet, three times a day, without fail, we rely on a farmer. Farmers work tirelessly to secure a plentiful crop that will sustain our nation. They play a critical role in the quest for sustainable and resilient food systems since they are at the forefront of reforming food systems due to their intimate understanding of the land and profound connection to communities.

Today, with concerns over food security looming for the growing global population in 2030 and 2050, it’s crucial to recognize the pivotal role of farmers. While other countries may not have a designated Farmer’s Day like India, the world’s dependence on these essential contributors remains universal. With this, we must reflect on our dedication to farmers’ empowerment and sustainable agricultural methods.

Empowering farmers

One critical part of farmer empowerment is giving them the knowledge and technology they need to improve agricultural practices. Precision farming, sustainable irrigation methods, and the utilisation of modern gear can dramatically increase productivity while minimizing environmental effects. Thanks to artificial intelligence, it’s now feasible to estimate plot sizes within a specific area by analyzing various remote-sensing data alongside years of plot history, current vegetation, and sowing window data.

Providing crop and weather advice to small-scale farmers can significantly enhance agricultural productivity and risk management through Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Making resources like soil and water management techniques, crop software practices, pest and disease forecasts, and nutrient management available digitally encourages knowledge sharing. These resources should ideally reach farmers at specific times before planting, after planting, and during the early growth stages of the crops. With this, farmers will be able to make educated decisions, adjust to changing climatic conditions, and enhance overall efficiency when educational initiatives and training programs focus on the most recent agricultural technology.

Promoting sustainable practices

According to a new report, agriculture plays an important role in farmer’s long-term growth in terms of end products. It is critical to promote ecologically friendly agriculture methods to guarantee our ecosystem’s long-term vitality. Adopting organic farming methods that promote biodiversity and reduce dependency on toxic pesticides leads to a more sustainable and resilient agriculture industry. Farmers adopting sustainable farming methods will be promoted under the Carbon Credit Trading Scheme. For farmers to leverage schemes like these, it is crucial to raise awareness about said schemes and policies and make them easily available by govt and agri industry alike.

In addition to affecting crops and livestock, climate change has an impact on sustainable activities. The report states that 59 per cent of the farmers felt their soil fertility had decreased while 37 per cent noticed no change; 44 per cent of farmers felt their soil texture had gotten worse, while 46 per cent noticed no change. Small farmers, who lack access to new technologies and pesticides, may struggle to manage these developments, resulting in significant productivity losses. Furthermore, climate change adds to soil deterioration, diminishing fertility and affecting the quality of agricultural land. This is a long-term hazard to small-scale agriculture because damaged soil reduces productivity and necessitates costly rehabilitation treatments.

What needs to be done

Considering the prevailing economic conditions, it is imperative to focus on farmer empowerment. However, another important stakeholder that is frequently forgotten when it comes to sustainability is greenhouse gas emissions from food systems. While Indian farmers can use cutting-edge technologies, these procedures also have an influence on our world and the way we produce. It is worth contemplating FAO research that found out that food systems account for 31 per cent of worldwide human-caused GHG emissions, with supply-chain processes such as transportation, storage, and handling accounting for more than one-third of the emissions. As a result, farmers must begin utilising techniques and technology that can assist in reducing operational GHG emissions. Speaking about India’s 15 Agro-Climatic Zones and its six seasons, the Prime Minister has also highlighted the profound depth of the country’s agricultural wisdom. He emphasized India’s strategy which is about the fusion of ‘back to basic’ and ‘march to future’ to protect its farmers from climate challenges.

Therefore, it is important to recognise the dynamic character of agriculture as we consider these obligations. Emerging challenges, such as the influence of climate change and consumer preferences, necessitate adaptable tactics. Finally, reflection on these commitments to farmer empowerment and sustainability reveals both progress and obstacles. As a result, the journey towards a more empowered and sustainable agricultural future necessitates ongoing examination, adjustment, and a persistent commitment to fulfilling the promises made to people who feed the globe.

The author is co-founder and CEO, FarMart