Sustainable Agriculture refers to the efficient production of safe, high-quality agricultural products, in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of farmers, their employees and local communities, and safeguards the health and welfare of all farmed species. Sustainable Agriculture is this economically viable, socially supportive and ecologically sound. The Committee on World Food Security defines sustainable agricultural development as an agricultural development that contributes to improving resource efficiency, strengthening resilience and securing social equity/responsibility of agriculture and food systems in order to ensure food security and nutrition for all, now and in the future.

Non-Aligned Movement recognises the importance of sustainable agriculture and the role it plays in ensuring food security. NAM has stressed that the attainment of food security and the move towards sustainable agriculture, including increased food production and agricultural investment, enhanced productive capacities and improved agricultural management and development and support for family farming and smallholder farmers in developing countries, are crucial issues for developing countries. NAM recognises that agriculture plays a crucial role in addressing the needs of a growing global population and is inextricably linked to poverty eradication, especially in developing countries, and has stressed that integrated and sustainable agriculture including crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture as well as rural development approaches are therefore essential to achieving enhanced food security and nutrition in an environmentally sustainable way.

At the 17th NAM Summit held in Venezuela 2016, NAM leaders underlined the need to address the economic, social and environmental challenges to sustainable agriculture, and emphasized that achieving food security would require strengthening and revitalizing the agriculture sector in developing countries, including through the empowerment of small and medium scale local farmers and fishers, developing of appropriate technologies, providing technical and financial cooperation, providing access to and transfer of technology, strengthening weather-forecasting, enhancing investment in postharvest technology and infrastructure including food processing capacity building and exchange of data, information and experience as well as infrastructure development.

A significant number of NAM Member States have undertaken initiatives to promote sustainable agriculture. India has formulated the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) which aims to enhance research and development activities, absorption of improved technology and best practices, creation of physical and financial infrastructure and institutional framework, facilitating access to information and capacity building. Apart from this national level initiative, a number of regional initiatives are being undertaken in India to promote sustainable agriculture. In Maharashtra state of India, a Climate Smart Village Programme for the Tribal Regions has been launched to promote practices such as zero-till farming, integrated nutrient and water management and proper harvesting and storage. Nepal has initiated the Sustainable Agriculture Development Program (SADP) which has focussed disseminating information, conducting training, practical knowledge about organic agriculture especially targeted to the grassroots farmers.

A number of NAM Member States in Africa have benefitted from sustainable Agriculture initiatives. In Cameroon, improved soil management practices and farming habits under what is termed as “permaculture” (a system of sustainable agriculture and design principles aimed at creating a more ecological relationship with the environment) has resulted in increased yields and more income from agricultural produce. Ethiopia has introduced Agricultural Commercialization Clusters (ACC) to commercialize smallholder agriculture through an inclusive and environmentally sustainable approach that significantly contributes to increased incomes for smallholder farmers, improved access to domestic and international markets, increased agro-processing and value addition, and creation of off-farm employment opportunities.

In Nigeria, the National Policy on Agriculture has propelled sustainable agricultural development. One of the major objectives of the country’s agricultural policy is to protect and improve agricultural land resources and preserve the environment for sustainable agricultural production. This is being achieved through the introduction and adoption of improved seeds and seed stock, husbandry and appropriate machinery and equipment, efficient utilization of resources, encouragement of ecological specialization and recognition of the roles and potentials of small scale farmers.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava