14 June 2018
The Chandigarh-based trust Dialogue Highway is hosting the 3rd National Dialogue on Himalayan Ecology, at Hotel Park View, Sector-24, on June 15-16. The conference will be inaugurated by Punjab’s Cabinet Minister Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Mr Devinder Sharma, Managing Trustee Dialogue Highway, informed the theme of the conference is “Measuring the Economics of Food & Agriculture Ecosystems.” Ecosystem services are many and varied benefits that humans freely gain from natural environment. This constitutes natural capital, which goes unaccounted in the national accounting or GDP calculations
He said, in essence, the conference focuses on evaluating the true cost of producing food, and brings in measures at redesigning the broken food systems. For instance, the retail price of food does not take into account the cost of pollution, water scarcity, soil degradation, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, poor labour standards, farmer suicides, not to mention the negative health impacts of unhealthy food to consumers.
Mr. Sharma said, “Consequently, today’s agriculture is leading to an estimated 43 to 57 per cent of human greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Agriculture is among the major contributors of climate change and at the same time, a prime victim of its effects. It is primarily responsible for 60 per cent of biodiversity loss, 80 per cent deforestation, using 70 per cent of all withdrawals of fresh water, and coral reef collapse. Excessive use and abuse of chemical pesticides has contaminated the entire food chain besides the environment, leading to widespread insect and bird mortality. Soil health has been devastated, with increase in soil erosion leading to rapid desertification.”
Mr T Vijay Kumar, IAS, advisor, agriculture to the Andhra Pradesh government, and chief architect of the Zero Budget Natural Farming Project, will deliver the Key note address. The conference is expected to come up with a framework for sustainable agriculture.
Andhra Pradesh has announced that it will convert its entire farming population of 60 lakh farmers to follow non-chemical agriculture in the next ten years or so. It has already converted 163,034 farmers to adopt natural farming in the past one and a half year. Andhra Pradesh provides the world’s biggest agro-ecological model that is based on protection of ecosystem services.
In addition, 30 environmental and agricultural economists from across the country will participate in this dialogue. The delegates include Dr T.N. Prakash, Chairman, Karnataka Agriculture Prices Commission, Bangalore; Mr Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Punjab State Farmers Commission, Chandigarh; Dr Indira Devi, Director of Research, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur; Dr Pranav Mukhopadhyay, Professor of Economics, Goa University; Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, Executive Director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad; Dr D Suresh Kumar, Professor of Economics, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore; Dr Manjula Menon, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai; Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Programme Director, Thanal, Kerala; Dr M H Wani, Registrar, Sher-e-Kashmir University for Agriculture and Technology, Srinagar; and Dr L Venkatachalam, Professor at Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai.