Power of eight

  • Minimal intervention is required to make organic agriculture in Nepal more productive

Farming, which began about 7, 000 years ago in the Middle East, is undoubtedly the most revolutionary discovery of humankind. It allowed hunters and gatherers to settle in one place and presented opportunities for the integrative utilisation of natural resources such as water, animals, sunlight, soil, and plants for food production. This fundamental property of integrative utilisation of natural resources for a successful and environmentally benign farming still prevails.

The fundamental innovations in agriculture, such as mixed-farming, domestication of plants and animals, agricultural tools such as stone axes, sickles and digging sticks, and irrigation, drainage, and storage methods occurred during the Neolithic era. Subsequent agriculture has largely been improving the innovations that were created during the Neolithic period. In this context, it is important for us to focus on agricultural innovations to meet increasing demands for food, fibre, and energy from the rising global population while enhancing environmental integrity and the sustainability of natural resource bases.

Recent changes

Innovations in the past century, such as during World War II, which witnessed the invention of synthetic chemicals such as ammonium nitrate for bomb making and organophosphates for the production of nerve gas, have underpinned the use of synthetic products into agricultural inputs such as ammonium nitrate fertilisers and organophosphate pesticides. The application of synthetic chemicals for agriculture certainly helped to increase crop yields and supported the rising global population, which increased from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 7.2 billion at present. The estimated global population for 2050 is 9.5 billion.

Responding to a generation of massive environmental aware-ness among the general public in the1960s, following the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, the US government established the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Continuous research on the use of agrochemicals  in the US has generated information on the links between many agricultural chemicals and human health problems, including various types of cancers—endocrine, kidney, liver, respiratory, reproductive, skin—neuro diseases, developmental problems, and the degradation of environmental health.

Environmental awareness and governmental actions that began in the 1960s were an incentive for organic agriculture in the US, and at the beginning of the 1990s there were many organic agricultural research and development initiatives on the ground.

Read more here: http://www.ekantipur.com/2014/12/30/oped/power-of-eight/399680.html