STRAW BERRY is the new stream for the farmers of Himachal Pardesh. The future seems very bright since organics is the up front mantra for human foods. The fast & vast expension of media revolution is definately igniting awareness among global masses and spreading very fast related the polluted poisonous foods they eat and consume. Straw berry is one of the prime catagory fruit with immense health benifits needs to be grown in favourable climatic conditions and altitude above 1500 mts is very condusive for natural organics. With the introduction of new hybrids of day neutral verities Edge India Agrotech initiated this new stream for the farmers across the country. Target is to produce strawberries round the year in protected and open field conditions.
Farm Fresh organic fruit are produced round the year and processing is on
Seminar to Focus on agro economics and future potential & viabilities on the subject was organised involving state Ministers, Planners and professionals from horticulture universities involving consultants from california USA . Latest cultivars of Day Neutral Breeds WHITNEY AND ALBION was introduced and complete cycle of field trials in different climatic zones from altitude range of 3000 mts to 100 mts in protected and open fields to analise the economic module is under trils.
Brain Storming session was attended by Horticulture Minister( H.P) Mrs. Stokes, the family responsible for apple revolution in the state. Mr. Bob Nottelman From california USA the subject matter global master along with director horticulture and university professors and professionals attended and addressed the prevailing situations and future emerging trends in the horticulture stream.
EDGE INDIA AGROTECH.
In the lap of himalaya up coming Agro tech centre for excellence.
Focused Crop.... Fruits, Flowers & Herbs
Completion Period : 3 years.
PROJECT STATUS : ACTIVATED 15-08-10
Edge India Agrotech activated its Agro excellence R & D centre at sainj himachal pradesh to create a self sustainable module. Multicropping and shelter farming the focus : Fruits, Flowers and Rare herbs the blenders.
Himalayan Saffron R & D Centre. ( http://www.himalayansaffron.com )
channel partners : INDIA, IRELAND, NEW ZEALAND
Saffron the king of herbs is defined as Golden Herb globly and is sparingly produced by few countries across the globe. Saffron is going to be a very useful herb for daily human consumption in future complex pressurised world. Saffron is used for asthma, cough, whooping cough (pertussis), and to loosen phlegm (as an expectorant). It is also used for sleep problems (insomnia), cancer, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), intestinal gas (flatulence), depression, Alzheimer’s disease, fright, shock, spitting up blood (hemoptysis), pain, heartburn, and dry skin. Saffron is a wonderful mind relaxant.
Women use saffron for menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Men use it to prevent early orgasm (premature ejaculation) and infertility
JAGS from Bali....... The Churner
The Queen of Berries : Strawberry : New cultivers in himalayas from california
UP COMMING AGRO EXCELLENCE HUB :
Edge India Group of companies with a mission and vision to improve the lives of human and to provide prominent economic stability to rural masses, blended both local and global concepts are conglomerated in few of the hard core subjects pertaining to Human Life. Its latest revolutionary division is idea of Edge India Agrotech Which is born in 2007 with a deep vision to excel the lives & reframe economic condition of our nations farmers by providing them best of the global technologies and agro-inputs so far to extract more and best quality assured produce with negligble fear of human & natural calamities.
EDGE INDIA agrotech visualizes the social responsibility and acute necessity towards Development of Livelihood and Poverty Alleviation of poor farmers to strengthen the country’s economy by working on ground for activation of second green revolution further towards hale and healthy human masses. India being the biggest human community involved in agriculture production over the world can visualize to feed the world community simply by adapting organized farming structure clubbed and calibrated with right technology.
Empowerment of Farmer through SHELTER FARMING is a strong social factor to uplift the status of rural India. This type of farming will provide conducive friendly environment to all .........Farm the Farmers and consumers ....... will further result in healthy produce and producer.
EDGE INDIA agtotech will be the frontline organized Indian company to provide custom based solutions as per socio economic and climatic conditions. SHELTER FARMING & AGRO ECONOMICS will be the mantra Right from educating the farmer for adaptation of latest technology to guiding and conceiving their projects, further to provide all backend technical support and organize the marketing of farmers produce i.e. (complete sustainable cycle). EDGE immediate thrust is to create a model Indian village in Himachal (some rural belt) to spearhead and activate 21st century complete self sustainable module further to guide and empower rural population the true evolution. Majority of such project will be manned by Women thus gender empowerment through economic liberty for rural women will be the core.
EDGE INDIA will flow down virgin ideas to ignite, motivate & empower down the line humanity by involving them in different rural streams like Shelter Farming, Eco-farming, adventure/ village tourism, rural infrastructure development.
3D – EYE….
Ignite & Spearhead to make Himachal (the Himalayan Terrain) as number one state not only in Indian context rather a global leader via horticultural revolution (Lead exporter of rare herbs, exotic vegetables, flowers & fruits) and Adventure/ Village Tourism, since there’s only one Himalaya on this earth and that precisely is our core workable asset.
Active Projects @ R&D Centres :
The most important catalogue in human history...? Catalogue of Life 2010 launched at UN Biodiversity Meeting in Nairobi.
19th May 2010
The world’s most valuable asset, on which we all depend, is silently slipping through our fingers – it is the world’s astounding biodiversity, in some cases lost before it is even discovered.
A catalogue detailing 1.25 million species of organisms across the world is releasing a special edition to mark the International Year of Biodiversity.
Surprisingly, scientists understand better the number of stars there are in the galaxy than species on Earth. Estimates of the total vary (2 - 100 million), but it is thought just 1.9 million species have been discovered so far.
The Catalogue of Life Special 2010 Edition is the most complete and integrated species list known to man. It has 77 databases feeding into an inventory of 1,257,735 species of plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms associated with 2,369,683 names.
The Catalogue of Life’s DVD-Rom will be launched at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday, 19 May. The Catalogue is recognised by the CBD and its latest developments are funded by the EC e-Infrastructures Programme (4D4Life project). The programme involves 82 partner organisations across the globe and is led by Professor Frank Bisby of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading, UK.
This new edition encompasses more groups of organisms and has enhanced user functions and display features, allowing for easier access and searching of species names, relationships and additional information.
The catalogue is a free electronic resource used by thousands of researchers, professionals, projects and portals worldwide and its website (www.catalogueoflife.org) receives 40 million hits a year.
Professor Bisby said: “The Catalogue of Life programme is vital to building the world's biodiversity knowledge systems of the future and the Special 2010 Edition is a celebration of the diversity of life on Earth. Expert validation of recorded species will not only boost our understanding of the living world today but also allow governments, agencies and businesses to improve their future modelling to benefit our natural resources, and to document biotic resources world-wide.
Floriculture becomes the Booming sector of India....... Scope & Future Potential......!
Floriculture is increasingly regarded as a viable diversification from the traditional field crops due to increased per unit returns and the increasing habit of “saying it with flower” during all the occasions. Though the art of growing flowers is not new to India, protected cultivation in polyhouses is relatively new in India. Enormous genetic diversity, varied agro climatic conditions and versatile human resources offer India a unique scope for diversification into new avenues which have not been explored to a greater extent. With the opening up of world market in the WTO regime, there is a free movement of floricultural products worldwide. In this context, each and every country has equal opportunity for trade in each other’s territory. Globally, more than 140 countries are involved in cultivation of floricultural crops. The USA continues to be the highest consumer with more than $ 15 billion per annum, followed by Japan with more than $ 10 billion. India has better scope in the future as there is a shift in trend towards tropical flowers and this can be gainfully exploited by India with enormous amount of diversity in indigenous flora, says Dr H. P. Singh, DDG (Horti.), ICAR.
Flowers have been associated with mankind since time immemorial, as they have been used for religious offerings and other social ceremonies. In past, these requirements were met from home-grown plants. Growing loose flowers mostly for worshipping, garland-making and decoration from the backbone of the Indian floriculture, which is mostly in the hands of small and marginal farmers. Twenty years ago, the growth was mainly focused on foliage plants for household purposes. The impetuses in cut flowers are: rose, chrysanthemum, carnation, gerbera, anthurium, orchids and lily. The floriculture sector is highly disorganized and no systematic data is available at present. Globalization of the Indian economy and subsequent liberalization of seed act paved the way for the advent of protected cultivation in India during early 1990s.
Indian Floriculture Industry is Growing :
With the declaration of floriculture as an “extreme focus area” by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, floriculture sector has acquired a special status in the flower basket of India. India produces a wide variety of floricultural products, which inter alia include flowers and foliage, both fresh flowers and dried, like roses, carnations, chrysanthemums and orchids. The International Flora and Landscape Expo-2006 reviewed the growth of floriculture industry and showcased India’s floriculture wealth and exposed the stakeholders to new technologies and scientific advancements, a platform for Indian exporters to interact with international buyers of cut flowers. With world’s fastest growing retail market, second largest consumer base and unlimited opportunities for growth, Indian Floriculture is today a force to recon with and Flora Expo 2007 and Landscape 2007 are the only platform to interact with flower growers globally to make recognize India as a ‘Flower Power’. This is a part of new National Vision for Floriculture, the brainchild of former President APJ Abdul Kalam. Floriculture industry is targeting an annual $ 2-billion in export of floricultural products by 2012.
Currently, flower trade has attracted the largest demand from an estimated 300 million middle-class flower-loving people with consumption in the cities and major towns at 40% per annum. Flower retail shops have mushroomed all over the place from major metros to market shops and flower boutiques. Further, super-market/hypermarket retail chains have fueled the growth in the consumption. Cashing is on this trend, the Minister of the State for Commerce also feels that floriculture is all about creating new employment opportunities in far flung areas rather than talking about Dollars, the focus should be on million jobs.
Six Agri Export Zones on floriculture have been set up in Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Himachal is comming up fast with a huge potential in specialized Cut Flowers like Carnations & Lillies and can become a main hub for these flowers due to most suitable clamatic zone. The APEDA has also taken a number of measures to facilitate floriculture exports. Some key Indian airports like New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Thriruvananthapuram and Cochin now have cold storage and cargo handling facilities. More airports will have these facilities in the future. Among other things, flower auction centres are also coming up in Bangalore, Mumbai, Noida, and Kolkata. These are readymade market facilities for trading and price discovery for a variety of flowers, both for export and domestic markets. India has to achieve the ambitious export target of Rs 1000 crore per annum over the next 5 years, a paradigm shift is required. The key issues that need to be addressed in the Indian context are: economic of scale, product range/ latest varieties, year round exports, quality control and certification, cold chain management. The APEDA has been addressing these issues through various forums on a concerted basis given its mandate to promote floricultural exports from India.
Correlation with DFC (Dubai Flower Centre), the trans-shipment facility for perishable goods in the region is gearing up to tap the Indian flower export market, which is expected to exceed $ 1 billion by 2010. The DFC can act as a hub for Indian growers and traders so that they can reach out to regional, European and American markets. A DFC delegation had recently visited India to create awareness about the centre and its unique facilities. The delegation met officials in major cities and held discussion with flower growers and exporters. Currently, India produces 2, 00000 tonnes of loose flower and 500 million tones of cut flowers according to APEDA.
The total business of floricultural products in India in 2005 increased from Rs 8,174 lakh to Rs 10,117 lakh April 2006. There were more than 300 export-oriented units in India. More than 50% of floricultural units are based in South zone mainly in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. West Bengal, Maharashtra and Rajasthan also have large areas under floriculture. The domestic flower production goes on increasing annually. Technical collaborations with foreign companies have been approved for India, in order to increase total share in floricultural trade.
The scope of floriculture in India has increased tremendously, which is evident from the increase in area from 53,000 ha in 1993-94 to 1, 26,235 ha during 2005-06. There is 100% increase in area and more than 230% increase in loose flower production and 480% increase in cut flower production. There is high competition as floricultural economy has shifted to consumer-driven enterprises, rather producer-driven economy. In this scenario of consumer-driven market, producer of all sizes have to focus on marketing with lookout for national brands to boost their sales. Growers have to look for niches and value-added products. There is a trend for direct marketing besides marketing, through super markets and wholesale markets. Business management is becoming important in this scenario of global competition.
In Asian countries, initially commercial floriculture industry grew because of increasing need for low-cost flowers by European cut flower market place. European flower traders identified commercial floriculture production in Southeast Asian countries; flowers were initially produced mainly for export, which has simply changed to opportunities for supplying to local markets as well. The potential for commercial floriculture expansion in Asia, including, production for domestic and export sales of cut flowers is unlimited, provided strength is capitalized and weakness are converted into opportunities through strategic planning, infrastructural development and regional cooperation. Marketing strategies linked with production and business management having horizontal and vertical integration would lead to the development of commercial floriculture in Asia. An attempt has been made to examine the scenario, identify the constraints in development of floriculture in Asia and develop strategies for promotion of marketing for flowers in an integrated manner.
The increasing demand projected for both cut flowers and potted plants in Western countries will result in the production outside the traditional area, due to the pressure of escalating cost and environmental regulation. Asian countries would gain from the situation and expand further by increasing the production of existing products as well as expanding the product range. However, post-harvest management and meeting the import standard would pose a challenge as consuming countries would make the regulations more strict to safeguard the interests of local growers.
Import Value of Cut Flower :
The value of cut flower imports fell in the USA, while, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Italy and Switzerland had increased import between 2000 and 2003. Increase in import was substantial in the U.K, France and smaller countries such as Austria, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Spain and Ireland. The increase in the value of world trade of live plants was 20% between 2000 and 2003. The top 5 import markets gained strength. Change in imported value of cut flower was to the tune of 18% between 2000 and 2003.
The imports of fresh cut foliage and greens declined between 2000 and 2003. The Netherlands, Germany and USA continue to be biggest importers. During last five year (1997-2001), live plant business is up strongly in the USA and the Netherlands, but down in Germany. Cut foliage imports are up, both in the USA and the Netherlands, because of their use in supermarket bouquets, but down in most other markets. The role of Government has also become very important consideration. Interestingly, Asian countries have advantage of varying climate, cheap labour, Government support and strong emerging domestic market. But quality management system, logistics and marketing strategies need qualitative and quantitative improvement are to be addressed. To be competitive, good balance between the productions factors, economic variables, domestic demands and networks have to be achieved. Comparison of cut flower sector in the Netherlands, point to the fact that it has derived competitiveness from rapid innovation, stronger vertical integration to meet the demand of consumers and retailers, more effective logistics, higher quality products and environmentally sound production facilities.
The strength of the Netherlands is based on ability to innovate rapidly, which is reflected in its productivity, quality range of innovations, high professional skill and state of the art technology. Since Asian countries have advantages in terms of favourable climate, cheap labour, human resource, emerging domestic market, wide range of plants, it has potential to become competitive in world by adding innovations, vertical and horizontal integration, quality management system, range of quality management, technology and professional management.
Export Potential Of Cut Flower :
India is endowed with proximity to market in Japan, Russia, South-East countries. The Government allows subsidy on air freight for export to Europe and West Asia, South East Asia. Import duties have been reduced on cut flowers, flower seeds and tissue-cultured plants. Floricultural exports from India comprise fresh cut flowers (to Europe, Japan, Australia, Middle East and USA), loose flowers (for expatriate Indians in the Gulf), cut foliage (to Europe), dry flower (to USA, Europe, Japan, Australia, Far East and Russia) and potted plants (limited to very few countries). Out of these components, dry floricultural exports registered a phenomenal growth during the last decade. The floriculture exports, which stood at Rs 63 crore during 1996-97, almost tripled to Rs 211 crore during 2004-05.
The overall exports of floricultural produce from India soared to Rs 304.69 crore by the end of 2005-06 from Rs 180.77 crore at the beginning of 2002-03. Indian exports mostly target the major floriculturally important events like Christmas day, New Year Eve, Valentine day, and Mother’s day. The major factors are the unfavourable weather conditions during winter in major production centres in the Northern Hemisphere that limit the production. Therefore, markets are open to produce that comes from more favourable climates from the Southern Hemisphere. India, therefore, finds itself competing with other equally favourable countries like Kenya, Ecuador, and Morocco etc. during such events.
Prospects Hi-Tech Protected Cultivation :
The cut flowers, which are being exported from India, are from these hi-tech floricultural units. Protected cultivation, although is in limited area (5% of total flower crop area), its contribution to total floricultural exports is significant. At present, there are about 110 export-oriented floricultural units (EOUs) in operation, covering an area of 500 ha. These units are growing mostly roses, but can be diversified into orchids, anthurium, gladiolus and tuberose as the demand for tropical flowers is increasing worldwide.India has several advantages and great potential to increase the acreage under intensive production and ultimately to increase the floricultural exports provided the units should be opened in ideal locations with sound technological back-up.
The export basket comprises dry flowers (71%), fresh cut flowers (18%), live plants (9%), fresh bulbs (1%) and foliage (1%). Indian exports of cut flowers into Europe stand at £ 2.6 million (0.1% of the £ 3 billion imports into the EU), out of which 94% comprise rose imports. In terms of value, the rose export from India is in the range of £ 2.4 million (0.3% of total EU rose imports from outside the EU). Ornamental foliage exports from India are worth £ 10.5 million (2% of total EU exports), while the exports value of ornamental plants from India stands at £ 2.2 million (0.1% of EU plant imports). India also exports small quantities of cuttings and young plants valued at £ 1.6 million (less than 1% of total EU imports) to markets in Europe. In terms of volumes, India exported 17 million stems of cut flowers and 5 million cutting and slips during 2005. The floriculture exports during 2002-07 grew from Rs 266 crore during 2002-03 to Rs 302 crore during 2003-04 and Rs 273 crore during 2004-05 to achieve a growth rate of 2.66%.
Dry flowers constitute more than two-thirds of total floricultural exports. For making dry flowers and plant parts can be collected from wild sources or some flower crops like Dahlias, marigold, jute flowers, wood roses, wild lilies, helichrysum, lotus pods, etc. some flowers that are air-dried and used include Dahlias (Dahlia hortensis), poppy seed heads (Papaver somniferum), roses (Rosa), Delphinium, larkspur (Consolida ambigua), lavender (Lavendula augustifolia), African marigold (Tagetes erecta), strawflower (Helichrysum bracteatum), globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa), lotus pod etc. dry flowers constitute nearly 15% of the global floriculture business and form the major share in Indian floricultural exports as well. At present, the industry is not well organized and depends on plant material available in forests and no systematic growing of specialized flowers exists anywhere in the country. The demand for dry flowers is increasing at an impressive rate of 8-10% and therefore there is a great scope for the Indian entrepreneurs.
Flower Seed Production........
Seed production of seasonal flower crops is a lucrative business and practiced in considerable area in Punjab and Haryana. This offers higher returns from unit area. Of late, demand is increasing in domestic market also. Research work is required to develop high-yielding varieties including F1 hybrids, agro-techniques for producing uniform seed with higher certification standards.
Lack of quality planting material is the major hindrance for not realizing the full potential of floriculture in India. Plant material of various kinds (seedlings, budded plants, rooted cuttings, bulbs, tubers, corms, annual seed, etc.) is required for commercial flower production, pot plant production for adding to home garden and for landscaping (corporate landscaping, bioaesthetic planting etc.).
Pot pourri is mixture of dried, sweet-scented plant parts including flowers, leaves, seeds, stems and roots. The basis of a pot pourri is the aromatic oils found within the plant. A significant component of dry flower export comprises pot pourries. In the recent past, floriculture has been considered as a viable option of diversification in agriculture. But now within floriculture itself, there are in a number of options a flower or a floriculturist can take up.
Essential oils and perfumery from natural sources are in great demand. In India, flower crops grown for essential oil production are limited and include mainly rose, jasmine, tuberose etc. Rosa damascene is exclusively cultivated for extraction of essential oils, rose water, attar, gulkhand, etc. in certain pockets of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Research should be focused on development of varieties with higher oil content and standardizing distillation methods for higher oil recovery. Further, identification of more crops and standardization of production technology needs to be included in the research agenda. Promotion of this sector encourages ancillary industries like steam distillation and use of indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) for making value-added products.
Marigold pigments are widely used in the poultry industry to enhance the colour of the meat and yolk of the eggs and also used in food and textile industry. So far, isolation of xanthophylls from marigold has been standardized. More crops can be identified and procedures can be standardized for full exploitation. Technology development in all the areas mentioned above not only improves the situation of respective sub-sector of floriculture, but these become important avenues for diversification of floriculture, sources of income generation and means of employment to the youth.
Import of Floricultural Produce :
India imports a vide range of floricultural produce from different parts of the world. India’s major imports are from Netherlands followed by China, Thailand and USA. The imports to India peaked during 2005-06 with an overall import of Rs 1,796.33 lakh, followed by Rs 1,137.80 lakh during 2004-05.
Strategies for marketing of floricultural products :
Rapid technological agri-business, international economic integration, saturated markets and free market mechanism have provided opportunity, but also the challenges. Retailing on markets will be more complex. Service, quality and reliability would be an essential factor for securing position in international market. Producers have to organize the production so as to supply the necessary quantities according to the required quality standards. Any parties in the chain, which do not contribute to higher added value, will disappear. The advantages of large-scale market could be found for efficient purchasing process and also in terms of logistics and use of information technologies. Accordingly, our efforts have to be directed to harness the potential through strategic promotion of market. Strategies could be for policy support, infrastructural development, professionalism in market management, networking of markets and quality assurance.
All these developments provide opportunity for production and marketing. This would need strategic marketing approach having backward and forward linkages coupled with horizontal and vertical integration. By providing sufficient attention and support, attaining the goal of reliable production of high-quality product consistent in quantities could be attained. Resultantly, Asian flower sector would soon become a major player in the region as well as in European flower market. Moreover, given the rapidly increasing rate of spending among Asian consumers for cut flower industry will soon surpass consumption rates for cut flowers compared to other regions.
Cooperation and commitment, in terms of education, research, funding and communication in Asia would be a driving force to become a leader of commercial floriculture worldwide, in years to come. The strategies have been chalked out to meet the challenges and to make floriculture a most viable activity in Asia to ensure employment with enhanced farm income. The challenges are to capture emerging trend in marketing through innovation and skilled professional management. Therefore, strategies to promote effective marketing should include, quality assurance, transportation, hub development for effective delivery, institutional support for information and training, specialty production, reducing cost and widening products, developing domestic market, promoting indigenous plants and flowers, developing professional skill and knowledge management, promoting uses of flowers and providing policy support product and delivery. Therefore, there is a need for quality products and delivery, and to develop quality certification system, as developed in Holland, which ensures the quality for the brand.
Newsletter : Agribusiness
Agriculture and biodiversity :
challenges and opportunities for agribusiness :
Agriculture is one of the key motors of the global economy. It is a source of foods, fibers and increasingly fuel . It provides livelihoods and subsistence for the largest number of people worldwide. It is vital to rural development and therefore critical to poverty alleviation. Cultivated land, including arable lands and shifting cultivation, covers approximately 24% of the world’s land area. Partly or fully irrigated agriculture claims 70% of the world’s developed fresh water supplies. Today, agriculture accounts for over 38% of global employment.
Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it supports are crucial for successful agriculture. Agriculture relies on biodiversity for pollination, the creation of genetically diverse plant and crop varieties, development of robust, insect or disease-resistant strains, crop protection and watershed control. In short, agriculture has a high level of dependence on the whole range of ecosystem services.
It is estimated that a significant amount of the world’s wild biodiversity is found in or around agricultural landscapes. Historically, agriculture served to attract and create new strains of biodiversity. It led to the creation of new plant and seed strains, attracted new animal species and fashioned fresh habitats for biodiversity. Together agriculture, biodiversity and ecosystems constitute a finely interwoven mesh of cross-cutting impacts and challenges. Today, they face a plethora of common threats. Climate change is driving species loss and leading to desertification. Likewise, a growth in the number of alien invasive species is threatening biodiversity and compromising agricultural produce. At the same time, demands on agriculture and pressure on biodiversity are forcing the two into competition.
The last 150 years have witnessed largescale conversion of land to make way for agricultural and other activities to address demand from the growing world population. Land-use change has both positive and negative impacts. Biodiversity can benefit from agriculture. Making land productive often helps to attract greater biodiversity, while conversion of land for agro-forestry also encourages greater levels of biodiversity. By that same token, negatives can become positives, land that was once considered unproductive because it lacked the necessary nutrients for crop production, often supports a high number of species; this is now widely acknowledged as very important. But deforestation, for example, to make way for agricultural activities has been a significant driver of biodiversity and ecosystem loss.
Global agriculture is under tremendous pressure. Population growth alone is not solely responsible for driving demand for food and non-food crops. As populations are becoming wealthier, consumption patterns are changing and demand for protein such as meat and milk products is going up. The production of 1 kg of chicken meat requires 3 kg of grain, for example, which further amplifies the demand on grain, not to mention increased demand for virtual water. It is estimated that world cereal stocks are currently at their lowest peacetime levels for more than two decades. Similarly, rural-urban migration is reducing the availability of agricultural labor. The UN Population Division estimates that, for the first time, the global urban population has outstripped the rural one, putting greater pressure on farmers to increase production to feed urban populations. In addition, the quest for carbon-neutral energy sources, as well as water scarcity, global food sourcing, fluctuating commodity prices and disproportionate government support to agricultural investment all collude to put further pressure on ecosystems and biodiversity.
Biodiversity is fundamental to agriculture, food production and sustainable development. For innovation in seeds, biodiversity is the crucial ‘raw material’. Therefore, biodiversity loss represents a significant business risk. The agricultural sector and the down-stream value chain — food, biochemistry, pharmaceutical, and textile industries — are particularly vulnerable. They face operational risks, including diminishing supplies or rising costs of key resources and inputs, such as raw materials and water, for example. Other potential challenges include governmental restrictions on access to biodiversity; damaged reputations and licenses to operate if public expectations are not met; and potentially restricted access to capital as the financial community adopts more rigorous lending and investment policies.
As the world’s population continues to grow, with the knock-on effects this will have on requirements for land (for building and other uses), and demand for renewable resources to counter climate change continues to rise, it would be unrealistic to set past species diversity on cultivated land as a desired target. This level of ambition ignores not only the source and origin of this ‘diversity’, but also generally the fundamental requirements of sustainable development, biodiversity and ecosystems.
As overall land is limited and further encroachment into pristine habitats not sustainable either, agriculture has to be made more effective and sustainable on the land already cropped. This realization is not altogether recent. In the past 50 years, without the use of ever-improving agricultural technologies (seeds, crop protection products, fertilizers, mechanization, irrigation, etc.) a landmass of the size of North America would have had to be turned into farmland. Post war needs shaped agricultural policy which tended towards increased productivity at the expense of wildlife and agro-ecosystem sustainability. Integrated technology knowledge only really came into its own in the 1980s and 1990s.
Sustainable agriculture :
The major challenge today therefore is to secure and increase agricultural yield while at the same time conserving biodiversity, ecosystems, and resources as well as maintaining a healthy base for those who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. In other words, balancing agricultural productivity with the needs of ecosystems and biodiversity to ensure they are all able to deliver their services in a sustainable manner.
The key to achieving this lies in the implementation of sustainable agriculture. This more holistic and systemic approach integrates the three pillars of sustainability: profitability, environmental protection and social equity. It includes the premise that agriculture needs to be managed while supporting biodiversity and ecosystem health. Integrated Crop Management (ICM) strategies that are being implemented include, among others, setting biodiversity conservation goals for farmland, such as maintaining or enhancing wildlife habitats. Similarly, low-till, and conservation agriculture are also widely promoted approaches. Low-tillage avoids plowing the soil. Not only does this circumvent the use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels that accompanies tractor plowing, this approach — often facilitated by herbicides — also helps avoids soil erosion and improves water retention, by maintaining more organic material in the soil.
The agricultural sector possesses a wealth of biodiversity-relevant knowledge and therefore has tremendous scope for the effective management of ecosystems and biodiversity resources. Farmers are the stewards of the agricultural landscape, its supporting ecosystems and biodiversity.
Crucially, business has a vital role to play in achieving agricultural sustainability. Particularly, those companies in the bio-crop and agricultural sectors can deliver solutions that make agriculture more effective. Some WBCSD member companies are continuously working to develop crop technologies that make agricultural production more effective while respecting biodiversity. Available solutions include energy and water-efficient irrigation techniques, energy- efficient harvesting mechanisms, etc. Similarly, green biotechnology solutions for new traits of seeds (higher yields and quality) and crop protection technologies will also help to achieve biodiversity and ecosystem-related objectives.
Market mechanisms :
Market mechanisms too may help achieve sustainable agricultural production and exploitation; particularly for companies further down the value chain that rely indirectly on agriculture and agricultural products. Examples include paying farmers for the supply of ecosystem services such as field margin management, watershed protection or planting cover crops to prevent soil erosion. Trading environmental liabilities such as carbon emissions, wetland mitigation credits, or even biodiversity restoration credits may provide incentives for sustainable consumption. Finally, the use of certification schemes for sustainable production practices could also result in biodiversity and ecosystem gains as well as offer profitable business opportunities for farmers. These may prove essential if integration of biodiversity enhancements into agro-ecosystems is to yield positive results.
To advance the goal of encouraging agriculture which protects or enhances biodiversity, there is a compelling need to devise workable market mechanisms to quantify and monetize the economic value of agriculture’s ecosystem services for the beneficiaries of those services.
Many companies, both in the agricultural sector and further down the value chain, are willing to make the investments and develop the technologies and approaches to contribute towards sustainable agriculture as witnessed by the number of businessled initiatives established to standardize certification procedures and environmental standards. However, to do so they need to gain an economic return on investment and therefore rely on supportive sciencebased policy frameworks and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
Governments need to set targets and provide the necessary policy and market frameworks. However, such targets will remain moot if adequate enforcement mechanisms are not in place. Similarly, any policy framework needs to be properly integrated across a wide variety of sectors and technologies, as well as regions, to ensure that it does not create perverse or counter-incentives. Business and many leading non-governmental organizations are ready to work with governments to achieve these objectives.
Nurturing biodiversity by feeding crops well :
The principles of Fertilizer Best Management Practices (FBMPs) are simple:
Fertilizers should be part of Integrated Plant Nutrient Management (IPNM). Farmers should start by recycling on-farm sources of nutrients (such as manures and crop residues) and then complement them with manufactured fertilizers.
Fertilizer use should be adapted to crop- and site-specific conditions. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. ‘Best’ is a relative term, not an absolute judgment.
The right product(s) should be applied at the right rate, time and place. This means that all nutrients should be provided in the ratios required.
The International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) is currently elaborating a global framework to foster the development and deployment of site-specific FBMPs. The initiative also aims to define indicators to measure the effectiveness of FBMPs .
To support greater nutrient use efficiency, policy-makers should :
• Fund research to better understand the most appropriate practices for various crop rotations under different agro-climatic conditions. As a result of ongoing enhancements of cultivars, climate change, shifting cropping patterns and other variables, best management practices need to be reviewed and refined regularly.
• Ensure that robust extension services exist so that farmers are exposed to recent research. It is even more effective if farmers are partners in the initial research, which allows socio-economic and cultural issues that could otherwise hinder uptake to be incorporated from the outset. Participatory research also strengthens farmers’ capacity to continually fine-tune their practices.
• Provide timely access to a full range of fertilizers so that farmers can make the best choices for their particular situations.