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Editorial

Earth Day a time to reflect

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By EMN Updated: Apr 23, 2014 12:06 am
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[dropcap]E[/dropcap]very year on April 22, over a billion people in 190 countries take action for Earth Day. People plant trees, clean up their communities, contact their elected officials, and more—all on behalf of the environment.
Like Earth Days of the past, Earth Day 2014 also focussed on the unique environmental challenges of our time. As the world’s population migrates to cities, and as the bleak reality of climate change becomes increasingly clear, the need to create sustainable communities is more important than ever.
Earth Day 2014 set out to do just that through its global theme: Green Cities. With smart investments in sustainable technology, forward-thinking public policy, and an educated and active public, the call was to transform our cities and forge a sustainable future. Nothing is more powerful than the collective action of a billion people.In developing countries like India the call for action on Earth Day is all the more urgent.
A glimpse of the agriculture output in the country is one indicator why sustainable living has to become a creed of living. Closer home we need to revisit the emphasis that government policies are laying on food production. Three years ago it was officially declared that Nagaland was importing 80% of its food grains. The famed and favored “axone” contrary to popular belief is also being produced for most part with soya bean procured from outside the state!
As a meat loving race we shamefully expend over Rs 300 crore on importing meat. We also import milk powder instead of producing the amount that we require. To top all of these shortages there is growing unemployment.
Around 51% of India’s geographical area is already under cultivation as compared to 11% of the world average. The present cropping intensity of 136% has registered an increase of only 25% since independence. Further, rainfed dry lands constitute 65% of the total net sown area. There is also an unprecedented degradation of land (107 million ha) and groundwater resource, and also fall in the rate of growth of total factor productivity. This deceleration needs to be arrested and agricultural productivity has to be doubled to meet growing demands of the population by 2050. Efficiency-mediated improvement in productivity is the most viable option to raise production
The country recorded impressive achievements in agriculture during three decades since the onset of green revolution in late 60s. This enabled the country to overcome widespread hunger and starvation; reduce poverty and bring economic transformation. The situation, however, started turning adverse for the sector around mid-nineties, with slowdown in growth rate of output, which then resulted in stagnation or even decline in farmers’ income leading to agrarian distress, which is spreading and turning more and more serious.
Natural resource base of agriculture, which provides for sustainable production, is shrinking and degrading, and is adversely affecting production capacity of the ecosystem. However, demand for agriculture is rising rapidly with increase in population and growing demand from industry sector. There is, thus, an urgent need to identify severity of problem confronting agriculture sector to restore its vitality and put it back on higher growth trajectory. The problems, however, are surmountable, particularly when new tools of science and technology have started offering tremendous opportunities for application in agriculture.
As an agrarian society our strength lies in exploring what comes naturally to us. The government cannot intervene in all spheres of our lives but it can certainly prioritise areas that will acrue benefits for the larger majority. What appears to be lacking is a professional management of our resources and channelising the unemployed to agriculture and allied industries. As a people aspiring for modern comforts of live we need to remind ourselves that all these things will come out way when we learn to get industrious with what nature has bequeathed us … a unique climate and unparalleled biodiversity that was kept in safe custody by our fore fathers.
What we do with the legacy left behind is no longer a matter of duty but of future survival .And Earth Day is a day to ponder and remember all of these factors and make a decision on how we want to live in the present to safeguard the future.

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By EMN Updated: Apr 23, 2014 12:06:35 am