Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sustainable Agriculture – An Overview

Since the end of World War II, there have been dramatic changes taking place in the agricultural sector. Due to the advancement in technologies, better government policies and enhanced mechanization, productivity of food and fiber increased a lot. There is no doubt that these significant changes have cut down risks associated to farming, but at the same time it has also posed some threats to the environment and communities as well. For instance, it has resulted in contamination of groundwater, depletion of topsoil, bad working conditions for the farmers, increased production cost and decline in the number of family farms. In the past two decades, a new movement has started within which modern agricultural methods are being questioned in context of environmental concerns. Thanks to the increased awareness for ‘sustainability’, organic or sustainable farming methods are becoming popular and farmers have also started accepting it within mainstream agriculture.

Sustainable agriculture is all about farming methods that cause minimal harm to the environment or communities. It not only addresses social and environmental concerns but also offers opportunities that are not only innovative but also economically viable for consumers, policymakers and laborers. There are three main goals associated with sustainable farming – social and economic equity, economic profitability and environmental health. From consumers to farmers, various groups and communities across the world have started sharing their vision and contributing towards the movement of sustainable food provision.

Approximately 38% of the land on earth is used for farming, agriculture and grazing. Industrial agriculture is not only using natural resources at a fast pace but it is also causing pollution. As the population will increase, pressure on land will also increase and if the farmers continue using unsustainable farming methods, it will pose serious threats to the environment and result in more poverty. Governments of developed as well as under developed countries in the world are encouraging farm owners to follow organic farming methods in order to reduce the rate of damage being caused to land and water. Sustainable framing will not only protect the ecosystem but support the welfare of communities.

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