Unplanned and detrimental exploitation of natural resources has adversely affected water, land and biodiversity in the world. Additionally, the outcome of climate change, periodic droughts and floods are affecting these natural resources. It further puts a challenge in front of the food production across the globe.
The world is already facing a challenge to meet the food demand for its increasing population. Farming community, thus, has to put more efforts to feed the rising world population. At the same time, there is a need to ensure that ecological balance and our natural resources are not harmed in this process.
Against this backdrop, the Soil Conservation Society of India in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Indian Association of Soil and Water Conservationists is organising 3rd International Conference on ‘Natural Resource Management for Food Security and Rural Livelihoods’ from 10th to 13th February, 2015 in New Delhi. The conference aims to boost agricultural productivity for food security and economic development, while conserving and restoring the natural resource base.
Addressing the gathering, Suraj Bhan, President, Soil Conservation Society of India said, “Soil, water and forests are the vital natural resources for the survival of mankind. Unplanned exploitation of natural resources has degraded land, reduced availability of water and dwindled vegetation. This gloomy status of the natural resources coupled with periodic droughts has its interactive influence on environment.”
“It is well recognised that watershed management has an important role to play in the process of sustainable development. Watershed approach has proved its efficacy and watersheds have been considered to be the ideal, logical and scientific unit for effective and efficient management of soil and water resources,” he further said.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Suresh C Modgal, former Vice Chancellor, GB Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar, said, “As far as food security is concerned, the population living below poverty line has the most vulnerable people. Their food security depends on the management of natural resource. Thus, we need to rethink on the management of soil and water resources.” Degraded soil and rainfed areas are the major cause of concern in the watershed development programmes in India, he further said.
Dr. JS Samra, Chief Executive Officer, National Rainfed Area Authority emphasised on the convergence of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) with watershed development programme so that the labour cost for that programme can come from the job guarantee scheme. He advocated for creating assets through MGNREGA.
CM Pandey, Additional Commissioner, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, said, “On-Farm Water Management is a mega programme under DAC. The major focus of watershed development programme is to harvest and conserve rain water for dry days, to put a check on the soil erosion and maintaining soil health.
The conference has seen leading policy makers, scientists, extension workers, farmers, farm organisations, students, and other stakeholders come together on a common platform and brainstorm on the trickiest issues affecting the farming community and to take the industry to the next level of growth.