New Delhi : NITI Aayog organized a national conclave on soil health management for sustainable farming on the occasion of the World Soil Day (December 5, 2022).
The conclave was co-hosted by NITI Aayog and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH India on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Economic Development (BMZ).
The conclave brought together policymakers, the scientific community, civil society and sector advocates to understand key initiatives in India and globally.
While delivering the keynote lecture, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar said, “The government is playing a pivotal role in encouraging measures to protect the environment. And in collaboration with the German government, we can help in developing a roadmap to improve soil health and sustainable agriculture practices.”
Earlier in December 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had presented to the nation an alternative path to halt and reverse soil degradation in the agriculture sector. The PM’s call to move towards natural, chemical-free and crop-diverse farming stresses the need to focus on the health of soils across the country to boost productivity, improve ecology and bring about increased prosperity.
Reiterating this point, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Suman Bery said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid greater emphasis on promoting natural and sustainable farming. I am delighted to see India and Germany working together to ensure healthy soil management and long-term food security.”
“To ensure healthy soil management, there is a need to reduce the usage of agrochemicals; we have to look for healthier alternatives. While agrochemicals improve productivity, they also lead to soil degradation. Therefore, the real cost of production is actually increasing,” NITI Aayog Member (Agriculture) Prof. Ramesh Chand said.
NITI Aayog CEO Param Iyer said, “We have come a long way towards food security since the green revolution and in terms of agricultural production, we are on the right trajectory. However, we need to lay greater focus on sustainable farming, as healthy soil is the basis for a healthy future.”
The conclave highlighted the role of soil protection, restoration, and sustainable soil management to support an agro ecological transition towards sustainable farming and resilient food systems in India.
Dr. Neelam Patel, Senior Adviser (Agriculture), NITI Aayog spoke about the use of IT for translating the soil health card data for judicious use of fertilizer. She emphasized on the need of research for scientific validation of different sustainable farming practices.
GIZ Natural Resource Management and Agro ecology Director Rajeev Ahal said, “The practice of natural farming and agro ecological farming practices can not only lead the way to rejuvenate and enhance soil heath, biodiversity, and nutrition but also the prosperity of farmers.”
India and Germany are already partnering up to tackle the challenges of soil degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change by promoting holistic solutions for resilient agriculture and food systems like agro ecology. In May 2022, India and Germany signed a joint declaration for the establishment of the first-ever bilateral lighthouse initiative on agro ecology and sustainable management of natural resources. Through this, joint research, knowledge-sharing and innovation will be promoted between academic institutions of both countries and practitioners, including farmers. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development intends to provide up to 300 million euros by 2025 for financial and technical cooperation for projects under this initiative.
NITI Aayog and the BMZ too also signed a Statement of Intent for collaborations, with agro ecology being one of the priority areas.
Today’s conclave was part of these bilateral initiatives to catalyze the transformation towards resilient and sustainable food systems, including nutritional security and improving rural livelihoods through green and inclusive economic development.