The Future of Farmers and Food
I enjoyed the chat that we had on the way ahead for Dadamac.net. I think it is a good starting point to take the discussions further about the evolution of the site.
Now to get on with my post for the Open Letter section, I have been looking at some interesting articles on the farm sector. The more I read about it, the sadder I feel about the farm community across the world--more so in developing countries.
As the global population surges by a few billions over the next few decades, farmers are going to face more pressure than ever to produce food in the face of challenges like climate change, shrinking agricultural labour (caused by movement of people from villages to cities), and shortage of land to till.
In a recent article, Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, says as the rural and farm population gets reduced, agriculture will increasingly become more capital- and knowledge- intensive to produce more and higher quality food for bigger and richer urban populations.
While much of the new investments, he says, will come from the private sector and farmers themselves, a substantial sums of public money must be spent on infrastructure, technology, education and extension systems.
An interesting article by emeritus Indian scientist M S Swaminathan says the media has a crucial role to play in revitalising agriculture by reporting on issues impacting farmers and their livelihoods. Professor Swaminathan, regarded by many as the pioneer of India's green revolution in the 1960s, adds that media has to take care not to lose focus of the small farmer. I am not too sure how much of the big media would like to pay heed to his words.
But I still see a silver lining skirting the dark clouds. Since a lot of the next revolution will be propelled by education and technology, organisations in the ICT (information, communication and technology) space, in tandem with research institutions, have a wonderful opportunity to create new avenues to train the farming community on better use of seeds, water and irrigation.
To me, the biggest theme of the next few decades will be to keep the farmer and his family happy in their homes, fields and villages.