If Ethiopia can, why cannot India?

Few months ago, I was going through a report of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the Economist that assessed the food sustainability of 34 countries.

Issued for the first time in 2016, the EIU’s Food Sustainability Index (FSI) looks at eight various categories organized into three components, sustainable agriculture, nutritional challenges and food waste.

The EIU rated Ethiopia as twelfth in the report. In fact, the eastern African country is perched higher than the U.S., U.K. and far above the wealthiest nation in the index.

Surprising indeed!

Ethiopia has been in the forefront of many innovations and improvements in agriculture and farming practices. With most of the farmers owning farm size of less than five acres, the Government has focused on many actions at the local level.

Local officials and farmers have adopted a number of tactics and practices – ranging from agroforestry to better soil and water management.

Projects such as the Ethiopian Sustainable Food Project aim to not only teach ideas on how to raise new crops, but how to store them and help move smallholders beyond subsidence farming.

With over 80 percent of Ethiopia’s labour force engaged in agriculture, both the government and aid agencies are working towards making Ethiopia a country benefiting from green economy by 2025.

Turn the focus to India!

Farm distress, lack of trust in the government policies, inability to deal with changes in farming, risks due to climate and natural calamities and ill-founded policies to promote agriculture have all played a havoc in the country.

But, all is not lost. Here is the five-point agenda for Indian agriculture:

First, focus on making agriculture profit oriented than dole-oriented;

Second, have consistency in policies to support farmers focus on production than politics;

Third, make public and private sector institutions accountable for their actions, investments and support to improving agriculture in the country;

Fourth, ensure different ministries work together to deal with betterment of agriculture in the country; and

Fifth, use most advanced technologies and tools, including those from biotechnology, artificial intelligence, market economy and others to strengthen the science-policy-practice-politics link providing a positive platform for people to embrace agriculture than resist it.

As the late Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru remarked ‘anything can wait, not agriculture’.

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