Sustainable Farming Defined
Increased global awareness on sustainable farming has taken root. Different communities have a varying opinion on what exactly entails sustainable farming. This diverse and varied definition has with it, a mixed understanding which limits the overall potential of the technology. To address this variation, The United Nations FAO has come up with a broad and definite definition of sustainable farming. The definition is entirely based on five principles. These principles are characteristic of sustainable farming.
Sustainable farming should be characterized by the enhanced resilience of people, communities, and ecosystems.
Ability to withstand extreme and erratic weather, volatility in the markets and civil strife enhances the stability of agriculture. Entrenching policies, technologies, and practices that enhance such resilience to agricultural threats directly contribute to sustainability. Several agricultural shocks have adversely affected production. These shocks and threats have now become global phenomena. At the same, the variability and inability to predict them have grown. Resilience, therefore, becomes central to the transition towards sustainable agriculture, and must address both the natural and the human dimensions.
Enhanced and efficient use of resources
The way resources in agricultural systems are used defines if the system has adopted sustainable principles or not. Resources range from natural resources such as water, and soil, energy, labor and costs. Current agricultural systems are in need of transformation to achieve this principle. The use of these resources needs to assure that the resources are efficiently used at the current period, and this will guarantee their availability for future generations. Being able to achieve maximum production is also a key indicator of efficient use of resources. Ensuring future food demand is equated with the supply calls for increased production. The utilization of ever decreasing crop fields should be highly effective to ensure maximum production. Though crop yield is used as a markup of efficiency, careful consideration should also be made to ensure that this is not achieved at the detriment of existing and available resources. Adoption of climate smart technologies such as clean and renewable energy such as solar energy is paramount.
Improved rural livelihoods, equity and social well-being
An agricultural system that ensures the improved and sustained livelihoods, ensures equality and general social well of the rural community is a defining principle of sustainable agriculture. Availing ease of access by farmers to resources required for production and at the same time encouraging both gender participation greatly helps reduce poverty and food insecurity. It’s a known fact that agriculture is one of the most labor-intensive economic engagement providing direct and indirect employments. It also acts as an economic livelihood source for around 2.5 billion people many of whom are in the rural households. Nevertheless, agriculture is associated with poverty and is seen as one of the riskiest types of businesses. Ensuring equity in terms of employment, access to markets, access to financial aid, continued technology transfer, continued knowledge awareness are some of the things that can make the sector sustainable. This platform would definitely create a lot of interest in agriculture and lead to improved income.
Natural resources conservation measures
Sustainable farming relies on the assurance that natural resources are conserved in their use. This ensures that future needs of these resources are met. Agriculture generally is dependent on diverse natural resources. The sustainability of agriculture thus is dependent on continued availability of these resources. Efforts should be made to ensure adoption of practices that conserve the resources and in turn lead to reduced negative impacts. Agricultural practices that are intensive normally employ the use of practices that are not sustainable and lead to the destruction of ecosystems. Specific farm inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides have a negative effect on water ecosystems as well as on soil health. Destruction of important micro-organisms responsible for good and healthy soils happens when certain pesticides are used. Further, intensive farming has caused loss of biodiversity. These traits make such farming not to be sustainable.
Availability of responsible and effective governance mechanisms
The private and public sector led participation ensures a smooth transition of agriculture towards sustainability in addition to accountability, equity, transparency and the rule of law. Entrenching sustainability policies on agriculture greatly in the state or regional law boosts the public interest in the technologies and its subsequent growth. The main goal in engaging in the sector is the desire to have a return on investment as this is an economic activity. With the targeting of sustainable agriculture incentives, there is a huge likelihood of farmers in adopting sustainable practices.