Towards Sustainable Agriculture in India

Achieving sustainability alongside food security is one of India’s greatest challenges. The government estimates that by 2020 the country could face a shortfall of 14 million tons of foodgrain, leaving a large part of the projected population of 1.5 billion undernourished. However, agriculture already uses 70% of the world’s freshwater and more than half of the habitable land. Since we can’t limitlessly tap water resources, and with land being finite, raising farm yields has become an imperative.

It is forecasted that domestic food, feed and fibre demand will double between 2020 and 2030 due to rising incomes. Food consumption patterns will alter with an increasing number seeking protein, vegetables, fruit, eggs, chicken and fish.

Water demand will grow too. By 2030, India will need 1.5 trillion m3, driven by domestic demand for rice, wheat and sugar. The current supply is only 740 billion m3.

Taking the situation as a challenge, Monsanto pioneered the ‘grow more while using less’ approach. Already the world’s largest investor in agricultural research, we believe that the key to sustainability lies in enhancing farm productivity through high-yielding seeds and technology.

Our corporate responsibilities are an integral part of how we conduct our business. Our values extend past the boardroom to farmers and communities in which we operate.

In India, Monsanto partners with nine non-governmental organisations to improve the lives of 143,000 farming families through sustainable agriculture, increase learning levels of 57,000 children, enhance food and nutritional security of 150,000 children, and support 10,000 families through agriculture-based disaster rehabilitation.

Some of the sustainability-focused efforts are:

  • Project SHARE with ISAP: Project SHARE (Sustainable Harvest – Agriculture, Resources, Environment), launched in 2009, is a sustainable yield initiative. We improved the socio-economic condition of 10,000 marginal farmers in 1,100 villages across Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra within four years by increasing crop productivity. We made farming sustainable through access to high-yield seeds, agriculture inputs and training in best practices. Yields improved across geographies. In Rajasthan, corn yields rose from 1.5-2 tons/hectare pre-project to 4.5 tons/hectare by 2011. In some cases, farmers achieved yields of 8 tons/hectare. In Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, cotton yields rose from 5 quintals/hectare to 7 quintals/hectare. The increases are sustainable and have the potential to rise further.
  • ACCESS Development Services: With millions of acres of farmland destroyed in 20 flood-affected villages of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Monsanto and ACCESS facilitated land restoration and improved livelihoods through new agronomic practices. Within three years, 77% of the land was restored in Andhra Pradesh while Karnataka saw a 68% success rate.
  • PRADAN: In partnership with PRADAN (Professional Assistance for Development Action), we are improving the lives of more than 3,000 agrarian households in 240 villages in Odisha through integrated land and water resource development. For the first time, more than 265 acres were cultivated with vegetables and five flow irrigation projects, eight farm ponds and two wells were built.

In addition, we also partner with the Sikhsana Foundation to improve quality of primary education in Karnataka, CARE (Center for Applied Research and Extension) to reduce child labour in 62 villages in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and Deshkal Society to improve effectiveness of schools.

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