In recent decades, there has been remarkable growth in agricultural production, with increases in food production across the world. Globally, 38% of the world’s land area is used for agriculture. This amounts to 57 million km2—an area slightly larger than Asia, the Middle East, and Europe combined.
In many industrialized countries, agriculture is now assumed to contribute very little to gross domestic product, leading many commentators to assume that agriculture is not important for modernized economies. For example, for a country such as United States, the agriculture contributes only about 1% of their GDP, while for a developing country about 65% of Indian population depends directly on agriculture and it accounts for around 17% of GDP.
Most of them follow industrial agriculture which causes ill-effects such as increased health risks from pesticides, damage to fisheries, release of GHG emissions (about 17% of man-made emissions come from agriculture and agri business), and rapacious use of water and so on. For example, In India, agriculture comprises about a fifth of the Indian economy and generates more than 400 million tonnes of carbon-dioxde or 25% of India's total emissions. It is thus clear that agriculture needs to undergo a radical overhaul to become more sustainable.
The drivers for investing in sustainable agriculture include forecasted food demand rising to unprecedented levels combined with tougher constraints on increasing food supply and the damaging nature of conventional modern farming – are more pertinent. For example, feeding nearly 10 billion people by 2050—without destroying the planet—poses both a daunting problem and an enormous investment opportunity.
Need for food security
Globally, with a booming population, food production must increase roughly 70 percent to feed 9 billion people in 2050. The rate of population increase is especially high in many developing countries. In these countries, the population factor, combined with rapid industrialization, poverty, political instability, and large food imports and debt burden, make long-term food security especially urgent.
Methods in sustainable agriculture
Sustainability in agricultural systems incorporates concepts of both resilience (the capacity of systems to buffer shocks and stresses) and persistence (the capacity of systems to continue over long periods), and addresses many wider economic, social and environmental outcomes.
Sustainable farming practices commonly include: crop rotations; reduce risk of water contamination by agricultural chemicals, pest control strategies that are not harmful to natural systems, increased mechanical/biological weed control; more soil and water conservation practices; and strategic use of animal and green manures, use of natural or synthetic inputs in a way that poses no significant hazard to man, animals, or the environment.
A research project by the Essex University on sustainable agriculture report significant increase in household food production some in the form of:
Increased yield improvements – for example when 4.42 million farmers followed sustainable practices of agriculture on 3.58 million hectares, average food production per household increased by 1.71 tonnes per year (an increase of 73%)
Increased cropping intensity or diversity of produce – For around 146,000 farmers on 542,000 hectares cultivating roots (potato, sweet potato and cassava), the increase in food production was 17 tonnes per year (an increase of 150%); and for some farms in Latin America (average. size = 90 ha/farm), total production increased by 150 tonnes per household (an increase of 46%).
There exists a lot of service related opportunities for those in the export of agricultural products. For example in India the total exports of agricultural and allied products at $10.5 billion in 2005- 06 constitute 10.2% of its export share. Promotion of sustainable agriculture could prove beneficial to increase share of Indian agricultural export in the world export.
With the change in dietary need and enhanced income coupled with awareness for health there is a growing appreciation for organic products. Many of the hotels consume green food grown under the contracts. Organically labeled fruits and vegetables are also appearing on some of markets.
Organic products are almost entirely (over 95%) consumed in developed countries. Categories of major organic products include fresh fruits and vegetables (non tropical and tropical), cereals (wheat, rice, com, maize), coffee, tea, cocoa, spices, herbs, oilseeds, pulses, milk product, honey, meat, edible nut, semi processed fruits etc. The major producers and importers of organic products are EU, USA and Japan.
Organic farming techniques
Organic farming is one of the several approaches found to meet the objectives of sustainable agriculture. Many techniques used in organic farming such as inter-cropping, mulching and integration of crops and livestock are not alien to various agriculture systems including the traditional agriculture practiced in old countries like India.
The main principles of organic farming include working in a closed system and draw upon local resources, to reduce the use of fossil energy in agricultural practice to a minimum , to give livestock conditions of life that confirm to their physiological need.
Most importantly, to make it possible for agricultural producers to earn a living through their work and develop their potentialities.
Mrket size and growth
Since India has much larger area, which have used minimal pesticides and chemical where potential for conversion exist, organic movement has taken a root in many of the states and there is growing demand especially in cities and market is expected to grow more than 20 per cent annually. It is envisaged that 20 per cent of production shall be organic in 5 years.
As far as the global organic food and beverages market is concerned, it is expected to grow from $57.2 billion in 2010 to $104.5 billion in 2015 at an estimated CAGR of 12.8 percent. The organic beverages segment accounted for nearly 13% of the global market share in 2010 with an expected CAGR of 14.8% from 2010 to 2015.
Markets are evolving to demand highly processed organic products as well as raw commodities. In Europe, markets are expanding for ready-to-eat meals, frozen foods, baby food, snacks, and beverages. Organic food processing ingredients include juices, fruit powders, dried fruit, meat, flavorings, essential oils, herbs and spices, and nuts.
Sample trade flows into Europe are from Israel (fresh produce), Brazil-Chile-Argentina (fresh produce, soy, and wheat), other European countries (baby food, processed foods, cereals, and meat), Canada (wheat, soy, and canola), Mexico-Central America (bananas, citrus, and coffee, cocoa), Sri Lanka-India (tea), and the United States (processed foods of all types, wheat).
As of 2007, almost 35 million hectares are managed organically out of which 11.8 million hectares are in Australia. More than 60 countries have a regulation / law on organic farming (FiBL/IFOAM). More than 60 million hectares of land are certified as organic wild collection (Organic Services ITC)
As of 2007, the countries with the greatest organic areas are Australia (12.1 million hectares), China (3.5 million hectares) and Argentina (2.8 million hectares). The percentages, however, are highest in Europe. In total, Oceania holds 39 percent of the world’s organic land, followed by Europe (21 percent) and Latin America (20 percent). The proportion of organically compared to conventionally managed land, however, is highest in Europe. Latin America has the greatest total number of organic farms.
The international organic sales have reached 38.6 billion US Dollars in 2006 double that of 2000, when sales were at 18 billion US Dollars. It surpassed the 40 billion US Dollar mark in 2007. With demand for organic foods outpacing supply, high growth rates are envisioned to continue in the coming years (Organic Monitor).
For example the fresh produces (fruits and vegetables) are the highest selling organic food categories with 37 percent of the organic foods segment in terms of revenue. Organic supplements are the fastest growing segments in the organic industry with an estimated CAGR of 22.3 percent from 2010 to 2015; with Europe expected to continue its dominance in the segment for the same period.
Organic farming is bound to grow in many parts of the world as many countries are developing their own standards and regulations. The United States and EU started many comprehensive National organic farming regulations in Japan, Canada and Australia. Similarly, countries such New Zealand, Israel, Brazil, China and some more countries have adopted organic standards equivalent to those of USA and the European Union. China.
The organic foods segments account for the highest share (approx. 86%) in the overall organic food and beverages market. Europe is the largest consumer of organic food, beverages and supplements; while Asian and ROW segment is expected to have the highest growth rates of 20.6% and 16.2% respectively due to high domestic production, increasing per capita income, and regulatory reform initiatives in countries including China, India, Singapore, Australia, and Latin American countries such as Brazil and Argentina.
However, organic farming is based on various laws and certification programmes, which prohibit the use of almost all synthetic inputs, and health of the soil is recognized as the central theme of the method.
Smart Irrigation (Water use – monitoring and control; water reuse)
Agriculture uses around 70% of the world’s fresh water and water is a clear constraint in many rainfed contexts and, when better harvested and conserved, may be the key factor leading to improved agricultural productivity through increased yields, allowing new lands to be brought under farming, and increased cropping intensity on existing lands.
Irrigation is the largest consumer of energy in agriculture, and agriculture accounts for 40-50% of India's energy use. Smart irrigation methods provide the appropriate watering schedule; adjust for weather changes; irrigate based on the needs of your landscape to conserve water while keeping your landscape healthy and green.
Smart irrigation methods can save water, money and are very sustainable. Studies reveal that energy demand in agriculture could be reduced by 15-20% by using efficient irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation and high efficiency pumps, reducing emissions by 65 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide by 2030. Equipments such as rotating sprinkler heads, weather-triggered irrigation controllers and other items can make a big difference on water usage.
Some human/gravity-powered irrigators, water storage systems and treadle pumps have been developed that consume no electrical power, use far less water than current irrigators (hence requiring less storage to start with), and are most importantly simple, low cost and user friendly.
Worldwide, we depend on forests for culture, conservation, tourism, products and more. The UN asserts 1.6 billion people across the globe depend on forests for their subsistence or for their livelihoods.
Forests cover 749 million acres, just over one third of the United States. They are home to most of terrestrial plant and animal species, and they are important sources of jobs, food, medicine, recreation, and spiritual well being for millions of people. Forests also provide important services such as maintaining our water supplies, purifying our air, and guarding against floods and landslides. In short, our nation's forests are essential to our long-term well being.
Why sustainable forestry
Forest resources and forest lands should be sustainably managed to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations. These needs are for forest products and services, such as wood and wood products, water, food, fodder, medicine, fuel, shelter, employment, recreation, habitats for wildlife, landscape diversity, carbon sinks and reservoirs, and for other forest products.
The concept of sustainable forest management (SFM) implies a type of management that views the forest not as the source of any one economic product or service (e.g., paper or recreation), but as an integrated whole.
Sustainable forestry is also a moving target. It is about satisfying people’s needs. Just as these vary from place to place and through time, so the definition of sustainable forestry varies. For example, in developed countries, many people now attach greater significance to forests as areas for recreation. By contrast, in many developing countries, there is a much greater reliance on forests as a source of food, of employment and for economic development. So you can expect standards of “sustainable forestry” to vary between developed and developing countries.
FAO (2005a) reports a global growing stock of 434 billion m3 of wood in forests, with current annual consumption at 3 billion m 3 (less than 1%), implying an average harvest turnover of at least 100 years.
Since such a long forest rotation is typically not financially desirable, large-scale forestry operations are constrained to exploit only the most profitable parts of the world’s forests, which (after Oliver and Mesznik 2005) require the following three characteristics: below-average planting and harvesting costs; lower transportation costs because of better access to processing facilities and markets; and high-quality common woods. Poor performance in these areas can be compensated for by an abundance of high-quality rare woods.
In order to fulfill these criteria, the forest industry has invested heavily in capital-intensive, technological solutions in planting, harvesting, regeneration and improved growth stock, which have resulted in ever higher levels of production at ever lower costs, exacerbating the over-supply problem (Hull and Ashton 2008). As a result, firms throughout the world have been divesting themselves of their forest management roles to focus more on processing, distribution and marketing, the emerging sources of profit (Bliss and Kelly 2008).
The confluence of declining wild fish stocks, increasing world seafood demand, problems with conventional aquaculture and the emergence of new technologies are propelling sustainable aquaculture forward. Sustainable aquaculture offers many economic and product benefits such as consistent harvest, scalable operations, lower transportation costs for locally produced seafood, and containment free products. For the right innovators and investors, there are enormous commercial opportunities.
The main problem is not only that so much overfishing takes place, but that so much fish gets wasted in all the transportation. There is much fish wasted in the process of shipping it to all parts of the country and abroad due to expiration of packages and unused fish.
Commercial fishing is run in a haywire fashion, and the ocean eco systems are being damaged in an extremely widespread as well as serious way. It is in such a scenario that sustainable seafood use attains importance, the earlier we start the better.
It is important to remember that like oil and water, seafood is a resource that can run out. Sustainable seafood has been noted as a suitable solution.
Companies that use sustainable seafood production methods do not overfish. Also, they also fish only in areas that are safe zones. These safe zones have fish in abundance and it is ensured that fishing in these areas do not affect the eco system.
Sustainable seafood will at last ensure that even our future generations can enjoy what is left of the fish in the world.