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HomeAgribusinessWe should concentrate on regional pockets and investigate the sustainability of regenerative farming

We should concentrate on regional pockets and investigate the sustainability of regenerative farming

 Nikita Tiwari, Co-Founder of NEERX shares a comprehensive perspective on the regenerative agriculture sector in India with AgroSpectrum.

NEERX was founded in 2019 with the mission to solve climate challenges in agriculture. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, the NeerX app integrates data from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, satellites, and cutting-edge agricultural technologies. In order to boost productivity and decrease agri-input costs for millions of farmers worldwide, the company aspires to assist in mitigating climate risks and crop management issues. Nikita Tiwari, Co-Founder of NEERX shares a comprehensive perspective on the regenerative agriculture sector in India with AgroSpectrum. Editorial Excerpts;

How do you envisage the future of regenerative agriculture in India?

Through our work at NEERX and our involvement in the development of sustainable agricultural solutions, we have witnessed a substantial change in agricultural practices. This change has been accompanied by an increased awareness of the negative impact that conventional methods have on both the environment and human health. An approach that not only strives to restore soil health but also fosters biodiversity, conserves water, and mitigates climate change has emerged as a result of this awakening, which has opened the way for the growth of regenerative agriculture. Cover cropping, crop rotation, agroforestry, and precision irrigation are examples of regenerative farming practices that are gaining popularity among farmers as they realise the long-term benefits of these practices. The establishment of resource centres that are dispersed across India and are located in close proximity to farmers is one of the most effective strategies to solicit their participation. At the corporate level as well, these practices, when paired with traceability, will result in better prices and enhanced transparency for customers. As a result, technological enablement at the last mile also plays a significant role in this context. 

Which of the states of this country are actually making inroads for regenerative agriculture practices and how?

It has been successful for states that have not only placed an emphasis on initiatives advocated by the central government but also implemented schemes at the state level. Some of the states that would be included on the list are Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Himachal Pradesh. Within the next few years, these states would bring forth a promising number of hectares under regenerative agriculture and the influence that they would have. 

What are the major challenges in adapting regenerative practices in agriculture and what are the possible solutions for them?

When it comes to transitioning to regenerative techniques, farmers in India face a financial barrier due to the fact that their credit cycles are extremely short and their harvest levels are unpredictable. Second, because the initial capital cost of the product is higher, the price at which it is sold in the market must be competitive or the government must provide financial assistance in order to make it profitable. The adoption of water management systems with the assistance of the government, as well as the incorporation of crop cycles and livestock rotations on farms, might potentially enhance the revenue. For the purpose of overcoming obstacles, it is essential to facilitate the flow of knowledge and collaboration among farmers, researchers, and stakeholders. The creation of forums for the exchange of best practices, experiences, and lessons learned can be facilitated through the encouragement of networks, farmer-led organisations, and community-based projects.

In terms of cost effectiveness, how effective is regenerative farming and does it have the capacity to mint more money through its produce?

For the purpose of making a judgment on the cost-effectiveness of a certain methodology, a national average is not the appropriate method; rather, we should concentrate on regional pockets and investigate the sustainability of regenerative farming. The implementation of these methods should not be attempted in areas that are under a great deal of stress, such as Kutch, the southeastern section of Maharashtra, Northern Karnataka, and certain parts of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh region. Those regions that have sufficient water availability, adequate access to inputs, and a market should be the ones that are promoted the most for regenerative agricultural activities. In the present moment, these are the only markets that are generating profits, particularly in the food and beverage segments, rice, spices, and certain perennial crops. 

In India, the Union government is promoting regenerative agriculture with an aim to reduce application of chemical fertilisers and pesticides and to lower input costs. What is your view on this development?

Over the course of agricultural history, conventional farming practices have traditionally placed a significant emphasis on the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides in order to achieve maximum crop yields. These inputs have been shown to have positive effects in the short term; nevertheless, they frequently result in ecological deterioration in the long term. However, on the other hand, it is not a good idea to immediately stop using fertilisers or pesticides. Although crops do require them, the overall value of the crop is increased when they are treated at the optimal amounts. The following are the data links that are missing and need to be completed at the agricultural land owned by farmers. Additionally, the initial costs of natural farming are on the higher end, but the benefits that are gained over the long run are enormous. 

Other major challenges centre around farmers’ behavioral skew towards conventional farming, lack of consistency in understanding, inadequate skill sets among farmers and the lack of access and availability of resources like capital, natural inputs and technology. How do you think that these can be resolved?

It is possible that a lot of farmers aren’t familiar with regenerative approaches and the advantages they offer. Assisting farmers in increasing their awareness and expanding their knowledge can be accomplished through the provision of educational and training programmes, workshops, and demonstrations. When it comes to the dissemination of knowledge, doing so in collaboration with agricultural extension agencies, colleges, and research institutions can be extremely beneficial. 

What are your expectations for the government?

The most important stakeholders are farmers; therefore, the government should make it its top priority to increase their income and improve their standard of living. There are still a great deal of prejudices that are present during the process of implementing new policies, which ought to be impartial, and partisan politics ought to be eliminated.

                                                                               By Nitin Konde

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