Digital Desk, New Delhi. World Environment Day 2021 will be celebrated on Saturday. This World Environment Day is also marking the beginning of the United Nations Decade on the Restoration of Ecosystems. World Environment Day is not just a ritual for us, but this special day is celebrated to highlight the importance of environment and remind people that nature should not be taken lightly. India as a country co-existing with nature has traditionally been a way of life and many communities still look to nature as a guiding force.
Restoration can take place in several ways. It is not always possible to return an ecosystem to its original state. We still need farmland and infrastructure on land that was once a forest and that is what nature needs. The economic benefits of ecosystem restoration interventions are many times greater than the cost of investment. Every ecosystem can be restored – forests, farms, cities, wetlands and oceans. Restoration initiatives can be started by almost anyone, from governments and development agencies to businesses, communities and individuals.
Let us consider some of the major initiatives taken by the Government of India under the leadership of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the commander of the environment protection campaign, which has been launched to follow environmental principles in the process of development. Has been done. Land degradation in some form is a matter of serious concern, which threatens the sustainability of agriculture. Landslides and deforestation due to rain and running water in mountainous areas expose soil, water and wind erosion due to trespassing in forest and other plains and faulty cultural practices.
India is one of the 70 countries that have joined the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which has established land degradation neutrality by 2030 as part of the Convention’s Land Degradation Neutrality Strategy. Has pledged to reach erosion neutrality goals. As a signatory to the UNCCD, India has implemented several policies and programs to combat land degradation and desertification with the goal of achieving land degradation neutrality.
The government is giving a lot of promotion to organic / natural farming. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana / Indian Natural Farming System Scheme / Zero Budget Farming is being promoted, which will definitely benefit the environment unlimitedly. The purity of the holy river Ganga has been the priority of the central government, a plan is being implemented to convert all the agriculture along the banks of the Ganges to organic / natural so that no chemical-fertilizer etc. goes into the river Ganges, the direction of water-environment This step could be a milestone.
In the remote forest dwelling areas of our country, where a majority of the tribal people do local farming and they mostly do not use manure or even do very little in some places, those entire vast areas are subject to organic certification. Our efforts are moving forward. An example is an area like the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With this, these areas will be used only as natural farming, the income of farmers will increase as a result of certification.
There has also been an influx of new nano-fertilizers into agriculture, due to which the consumption of common fertilizers will be reduced, which will definitely increase the fertility of the fields. The most important strategies being adopted by the government for sustainable agriculture amidst the challenges posed by climate change. One of them is to increase water use efficiency in agriculture. Precise water use through micro-irrigation technologies has shown great promise in reducing the water footprint at the farm level.
The budget of micro-irrigation was earlier 5 thousand crore rupees, which has been doubled by the central government in this budget and now with a huge fund of 10 thousand crore rupees, the farmers will get a lot of benefit through micro irrigation. Due to this, less groundwater will be extracted, which will directly benefit the environment immensely. The government has also made a new policy regarding bio stimulants, so that there is less use of chemical-fertilizers and the condition of the fields improves. Continuous work is going on under the guidance of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on the plan to make ethanol from maize, which will save the environment a lot by reducing imports as well as reducing consumption of petrol and diesel.
Our food processing sector is also instrumental in reducing post-production losses of agriculture and allied sector through on-farm and off-farm investments in conservation and processing infrastructure, besides increasing farm incomes and generating non-farm employment. Food wastage increases the emission of greenhouse gases in the environment, which can be avoided to a great extent. The Ministry of Food Processing Industries through its schemes has made significant contribution towards reduction in post-harvest losses by encouraging creation of farm gate infrastructure, enhancing food processing capacity and strengthening the value chain of various agro-horticulture products. Prime Minister’s formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PMFME) aimed at upgrading 2 lakh new enterprises and training 9 lakh entrepreneurs, promoting sustainable processing of agriculture and allied products and advancing the environment Will go a long way.
Due to the highly diverse nature of the food industry, inefficient processing techniques, handling and packaging operations generate wastes that, if left untreated, can lead to serious pollution problems. During the last 5 years, the Ministry has supported around 800 food processing infrastructure projects ranging from huge mega food parks to small value chain linkage projects spread over an area of 50 acres. Adoption of innovative processing techniques, waste disposal system including water treatment plant and reuse of treated water, effluent treatment plant as well as solid waste disposal plant is mandatory for assistance under major schemes of Mega Food Park, Agro Processing Cluster etc. . In projects that employ renewables, priority is given to support energy sources such as solar panels and efficient energy use machinery.
The Ministry also promotes research activities for innovative product and process development in the food processing sector and “Waste to Wealth” is one of the major focus areas of these research projects. Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Thanjavur- an autonomous institute under the administrative control of the ministry, has developed flavored plates and ice cream cones from jackfruit, which often go waste due to the huge production cluster in the area, thus its environmental impact. reduce the. Some of the technologies/products developed by the Institute from food waste are: (a) Mixed high fiber flour prepared from jackfruit seeds and strand powder, which is used for the preparation of cookies, biscuits and extruded products like pasta, noodles (b) Food Production of onion powder from onion waste products such as onion stalks, rinds and flowers of onion for flavor enhancement in mixtures (c) Pomegranate seeds and peels, grape pomace, potato peel, black gram milling waste (powder and husk) ) are added to flour while preparing cookies, cakes, etc., to increase the nutritional value.
Commercial food industry has focused on utilization of waste streams. Development for food packaging using waste starch material from rice, millet, maize processing units, development of biodegradable plates using waste tree logs, from paddy milling industries The use of rice bran ash and materials from Chinese industries for production of biodegradable food packaging materials, eco-friendly technology for extracting oil from mango seed kernels are some of the major research activities going on in the area.
Intensive agriculture and increased dependence on irrigation resulted in salinity, alkalinity and waterlogging in some irrigated areas of the country. Hydration mainly affects fertile lands. In India as well as in other developing countries, water being an important component in agriculture, any loss of irrigated land should be avoided through proper irrigation practices, provision of drainage, combined use of water etc. The risk of waterlogging stems from the fact that farmers may not recognize the problem until it begins to affect yields, and cannot be prevented unless there is regular monitoring of groundwater levels. be done.
Apart from soil erosion, there are other factors which lead to the degradation of the soil ecosystem. Intensive farming leads to soil nutrient deficiencies and imbalances, especially micronutrient deficiencies, resulting in degradation of soil organic matter. In addition, wet conditions attract serious pests due to seepage of rainwater. High use of nitrogen and water has caused nitrogen to be carried to the water level, due to which it is also polluting for the people. Keeping this in view, about 12 crore soil tests were conducted by the Government of India and distribution of land health cards. To promote balanced fertilizer use. Deforestation is one of the biggest challenges in the world. The main reasons for the decline in forest wealth are high demand for fuel and other timber as a result of population growth, indiscriminate siting of development projects and forest fires. The forest cover has not changed much in recent times as its diversion for non-forestry purposes has been more or less compensated by afforestation. India is one of the few countries where forest cover is increasing
India is a country with diverse agro-climatic conditions that shelter a wide variety of animals and plants. India ranks highest in Asia and the world in terms of plant diversity. As agriculture becomes more and more commercialized, many plant and animal species are becoming extinct. With a view to providing food and nutritional security to all without destroying the natural resource base, while ensuring inter-generational environmental equity, a number of measures have been adopted by the Government of India for sustainable management of forests in all areas related to agriculture, including agriculture and fisheries. And overall, it is a satisfactory situation that our Annadatas are becoming environmental watchdogs in the fields.
Writer- Narendra Singh Tomar (Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Food Processing Industries, Government of India)