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Feedback from India consultation, 22 Nov, 2013
India Consultation on Sustainable Agriculture Business Principles (SABPs)
Feedback from India consultation, 22 Nov, 2013
for the government to play its due role in achievement of the outcomes; a k...
Feedback from India consultation, 22 Nov, 2013

The overall theme important for enhancing productivity in ...
Feedback from India consultation, 22 Nov, 2013

While the second group felt that agriculture doesn’t contribute to clima...
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India Consultation on Sustainable Agriculture Business Principles (SABPs)


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India Consultation on Sustainable Agriculture Business Principles (SABPs)

  1. 1. Feedback from India consultation, 22 Nov, 2013 India Consultation on Sustainable Agriculture Business Principles (SABPs) The India Consultation on Sustainable Agriculture Business Principles (SABPs) was held on 22 nd November 2013 at India International Centre, New Delhi. After a detailed setting of context and presentation on the White Paper, the participants were divided into two groups with the objective of getting their feedback on the white paper on SABPs. The key aspects that participants were asked to consider were:  Views on the approach & structure for principles framing  Key issues (outcomes & factors) that have been identified & their relative prioritisation  Content under each principle | Is the language appropriate & relevant  Feedback on contextual factors (cultural, economic, legal) and key constraints in India including partnership and enabling actions The discussion groups were led by Mr. Rahul Pandey, Vice President, Responsible Banking, YES Bank and Mr. Sudarshan Suryawanshi, CEO, Indian Society Agribusiness Professionals, an NGO specialising in sustainable agriculture project implementation. Each group deliberated on the white paper in context of questions raised by the presenter in the first session for about 50 minutes and presented their respective perspectives at the end of their deliberations. All participants strongly endorsed the need for sustainable intensification of agriculture although there were differences in views regarding the relative importance of identified factors/outcomes. Specific feedback emerged around four broad areas. 1. Indian agriculture is predominantly small farmer-led. Each of the principles would need to incorporate this perspective. For instance, how the 'sustainable intensification' know-how is transferred to the small farmers, how access to natural resources, financial services and farm inputs could be enabled, how their economic viability needs to be ensured etc. to empower the small farmer to adopt best practices in sustainable agriculture voluntarily. 2. With the purpose of the principles being "to trigger principle-based-partnerships" towards sustainable intensification of agriculture, the final articulation must be seen from this lens; whether all of them are articulated powerfully enough to trigger such partnerships and aligned action. 3. In India where a large number of consumers are low-income households, and the majority of farmers is resource-poor with small holdings, the role of Government is larger than that the free market approach would imply. An enabling environment that goes beyond transparent governance would be required for business to play an effective role and for markets to work in up-scaling sustainable agriculture models and practices. It is important Poonam Madan, Consultant/Advisor, Sustainability, New Delhi, November 2013
  2. 2. Feedback from India consultation, 22 Nov, 2013 for the government to play its due role in achievement of the outcomes; a key question is how the government can be co-opted into strategic partnerships. 4. Several factors identified in the white paper are followed through with well-articulated concerns and several with well-articulated action points; while some have concerns missing and some have actions missing. Identifying one or two ideally articulated concerns and actions, the same construct needs to be replicated for all the factors. Feedback on enabling environment I. Institutions for supporting agriculture sector development need to be substantively strengthened. For eg, NABARD (nodal agency for financing agriculture and rural development); the agriculture cooperative marketing societies in India, which are prone to corruption and inefficiency; as well as the agriculture extension system. II. Financing is critical for stability of small farmers who are among the most vulnerable to agricultural commodity price volatility. Although the government policy on financial inclusion mandates allocation of 40% of the banking sector lending portfolio for the priority sector including small farmers, performance on this front has been poor for various systemic reasons. Outcomes prioritisation  One group felt all the outcomes were equally important.  The other group provided a set of priorities for India in order of ranking. The outcomes ranking is as follows 1. Economic viability and shared value 2. Food security, health and nutrition 3. Improving access to and transfer of knowledge, skills and technology 4. Good governance and accountability 5. Human rights, decent work and thriving rural communities, and 6. Environmentally responsibility Factors prioritisation While one group felt all factors were important, the second group identified the following as the most important factors with respect to Indian context: o Supply chain o Agriculture yield and productivity o Optimal use of soil and water, and o Small farmers and cooperatives All participants further felt the need to highlight some factors critical to the Indian context i. Priority should be given to credit accessibility and yield productivity ii. A lot of farmers are not aware of good agriculture practices. Poor techniques of farming lead to degradation of agriculture lands. Thus, a special focus should be on awareness and information dissemination. Poonam Madan, Consultant/Advisor, Sustainability, New Delhi, November 2013
  3. 3. Feedback from India consultation, 22 Nov, 2013 iii. iv. v. vi. The overall theme important for enhancing productivity in India is access to affordable technologies and innovations India has a lot of waste land. Thus, there should be interventions to convert this waste land into agriculture land. Around 60 per cent of the agriculture land is rain-fed. Thus, interventions such as efficient use of water harvesting could make agriculture more sustainable Private sector participation in agriculture extension work needs to be enhanced substantially. Feedback on structure/frame There is lack of consistency in the framing approach. In the case of some factors, both concerns and actions have been distinctively articulated, while in others, either only concerns or only actions have been articulated. The principles too need better articulation of actionable aspects. Example of good articulation while explaining critical factors: Factor Concerns Actions Small scale producers’ big share in output & trade Poor access to information, inputs, technology and finance Vulnerable - eg to extreme weather and price volatility Support cooperatives, producer organisations Larger businesses ensure fair, long-term relationships Encourage viability of small scale farming Energy efficiency Modern agriculture, driven by the ready availability of fossil fuels for farm machinery, transport and fertilisers, has improved yields and efficiency -- but also contributed to GHGs and linked food affordability to fuel-price volatility. Use energy more efficiently; increase usage of field waste products to generate energy; and promote development of alternative and renewable sources in a balanced manner that does not compete with need for food. Example of inadequate articulation Workers’ Rights, Welfare and Migrant Workers Poor pay, working conditions and discrimination; Lack of representative bodies, job security, social protection; Safety and health risks; Forced labour Decent working conditions for all workers Principles-based feedback SABP # 1: Be environmentally responsible  There is need for restoration of soil fertility damaged by repeated agricultural practices and a need to balance land degradation with agriculture on a sustainable basis.  In context of balancing growing demands from agriculture with environmental pressures, fodder must be added to the list of food, fuel and fibre Poonam Madan, Consultant/Advisor, Sustainability, New Delhi, November 2013
  4. 4. Feedback from India consultation, 22 Nov, 2013  While the second group felt that agriculture doesn’t contribute to climate change as much as industry and transportation; the linkage between this principle and SABP#5 was that farmers need to be made aware of the impacts of climate change on agriculture.  Both groups agreed that there should a balance of existing/traditional and modern knowledge. This should help in producing better sustainable agriculture practices. SABP # 2: Economic viability and shared value  Instead of using the term “small-scale”, the language should be “small and marginal farmers” in the Indian context  There should be some mechanism to prevent farmer communities’ dependence on a single company (supplying inputs or purchasing produce) as this makes farmers more vulnerable  Business should share risks with farmers in distress situations  There should be proper crop-specific policies/approaches instead of simply focusing on size/scale of farmers.  Farmers need to have an effective institutionalised representative body  There is need for a sustainable finance model for agriculture  Land fragmentation is a problem. There is need for legislation to curb reduction in size of land holdings beyond a point SABP # 3: Human rights, decent work & thriving rural communities  The word workers should be replaced with agriculture workers to have more clarity  Farmers’ rights need to be factored in with a strong focus  There should be a consortium for farmers, which could act as a central body to address farmer’s grievances. SABP # 4: Good governance and accountability  Given how knowledge dissemination is critical, the accountability of agricultural extension officers at the district level (operative level in a decentralised implementation system in India) needs to be redefined. This aspect has a strong association with the enabling environment SABP # 5: Knowledge, skills and technology  While providing access to new technology to farmers is important it should be balanced with the existing knowledge pool.  Farmers should be educated on climate change and its impact on agriculture. SABP # 6: Food security, health and nutrition  There’s no mention of food safety and traceability through supply chain. India has a new food safety regulation which conceptually includes the primary producer level, but there is definite need to reflect on this aspect as a business principle, given the indiscriminate use of pesticides and other chemicals both at farm level and in subsequent stages of the value chain. Poonam Madan, Consultant/Advisor, Sustainability, New Delhi, November 2013