Nothing other than sustainable development

Nothing other than sustainable development
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Highlights

Vruksho Rakshati Rakshitah state our scriptures (one who protects trees is protected) alluding to the fact that one who preserves nature reaps the benefits and one who violates it, slowly but surely travels on the path of self-destruction.

Vruksho Rakshati Rakshitah state our scriptures (one who protects trees is protected) alluding to the fact that one who preserves nature reaps the benefits and one who violates it, slowly but surely travels on the path of self-destruction. Even our sages, rishis and many of the present day mystics teach us about the importance of five elements, the Panchamahabhutas, Earth (prithvi), Water (jal), Fire (tejas), Wind (vayu) and Space (akasha).

We call earth as Bhoomata. We pray to Bhoomata. It is also equated with Shiva as he is known as Ashta Murty and Earth is said to be one part of the Ashta Murty. Saints say that Vedas had eloquently spoken about the importance of protecting soil and the methodology to protect soil. If we save soil, it will save us.

But unfortunately, all this has been forgotten in our quest for commercialisation and mad race to produce more and more and in the process, we embarked on the path of self-destruction.

Over the past 20 years, the global population has risen by more than 25 per cent from just over 6 billion to nearly 8 billion people. The amount of land used to grow crops has increased by just 4 per cent over that time, as farmers have been able to meet the growing demand for food by dramatically increasing the productivity per acre of agricultural land. They've done so by increasing use of diesel-fuelled machinery, fertilizer, and pesticides.

This has resulted in soil degradation and still neither the political executive nor the common people seem to have realised the urgency to protect and take measures to regenerate soil. The political parties are more interested in claiming that they are number one in paddy cultivation or wheat cultivation without realising the damage they had already caused to the soil and its impact.

We need to understand that every worm, every insect, every animal is working for the ecological wellbeing of the planet. Only we the human beings who feel that we are most intelligent are not working in that direction. Agriculture, deforestation, and other factors have degraded and eroded topsoil at alarming rates.

Reports indicate that globally, 52 percent of agricultural land is already degraded pushing the planet into crisis. Globally around 24 billion tons of fertile soil and 27,000 bio-species are lost each year. Already farmers are at breaking point and it is estimated that by 2050 there will be two billion more mouths to feed according to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

For now, farmers have been able to boost agricultural productivity by irrigating more land and applying heavier doses of fertilizer and pesticides. But the report says these practices are not sustainable. They have eroded and degraded soil while polluting and depleting water supplies and shrinking the world's forests.

The FAO report makes clear that climate change is further stressing agricultural systems and amplifying global food production challenges. Some organisations like Isha Foundation have taken up Save Soil campaign. But unless the Governments realise its importance and talks and act to conserve and rejuvenate the soil, things will not change at the pace which they should.

Mere lip service or some speeches won't help. Its time the political parties cut down on political rhetoric and calling each other names and talk about such issues and come with sustainable action plans.

In fact, they should make it the main agenda in their party manifestos instead of announcing freebies and non-sustainable direct benefit schemes spending tax payer's money and branding them as generosity of the ruling parties. The soil degradation is not a problem which cannot be reversed if the governments start acting now before it's too late. What they need is smart planning and coordination in sustainable farm practices and innovative technologies. Its time the political parties wake up.

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