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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

"Can agroecological farming feed the world? Farmers' and academia's views."

Moving from a fallout of green revolution farming towards embracing agro-ecological practices - an Indian perspective

M. Soubadra Devy1, Chethana V. Casiker2

1Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), India
2Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)


Agroecology has been projected as a pathway to food security. In addition, there have been suggestions on achieving its adaption at scale through policy. Recently, we witnessed how a top-down policy approach for a sudden and complete shift towards organic agriculture led to a severe economic crisis in Sri Lanka. This policy clearly skirted experiments, pilots and place-based approaches before adaption at scale.

Excepting the mountainous regions, much of the land in the plains of India has lost fertility due to intense farming. There is a feeling of disenchantment among farmers due to the low productivity of these lands. This has created a trend where farmers discontinue farming and move to urban centres. In contrast, there has emerged a `neo-farming’ clan that is moving from urban to rural India to take over swathes of land to practice certified organic agriculture because of its high economic returns. These practices are entirely driven by economics and seldom adhere to agroecological principles.

While there is an urgent need to incorporate agroecological practices in agriculture, how we achieve the required level of productivity and achieve mainstream status is a challenge. To start with, we have generations of farmers who are adapted to green revolution farming. This requires us to generate knowledge and build the skills necessary for agroecological farming. Further, the approach and practices developed have to be place-based, considering the diversity of agro-climatic regions in India. There is, therefore, a critical need for co-creation of knowledge based on agroecological practices through interdisciplinary approaches and an unusual collaboration of farmers, ecologists, economists and social scientists.

Here, we discuss various approaches and pathways for achieving the desired scale through case studies on agro-ecological practices representing various geographies and agro-climatic regions of India.

Keywords: Biodiversity, case study, food security, India, organic farming, productivity

Contact Address: M. Soubadra Devy, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bengaluru, India, e-mail: soubadra@atree.org

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