Pushing up Farm Productivity

Dear Pam,

Here is an interesting piece on the role that pulses and oilseeds play in nutritional security. Though the article talks about the state of Indian agriculture, it has some interesting points on increasing agricultural productivity.

In order to progress, the mindset with regard to the following two factors needs to change, says Dr Lux Lakshmanan, Director, California Agriculture Consulting Service. Factor no 1: It is not the farmer who makes the food: he is only a facilitator. Food is actually made by plants. Since plants do not talk, their needs are understood through research and experimentation. Factor no 2: The mindset that assumes that breeding is the solution to all maladies has to change. Nurturing of plants is several times more important in crop productivity improvement than hybrid seeds per se.

Importantly, the current policy of pampering farmers with subsidies, he says, will get us nowhere in terms of improving productivity. This is well understood not only in developed countries but also in developing African countries like Malawi. Malawi was a basket case of poverty, malnutrition and food shortage. Crop productivity improvements have taken it to the point where the country now exports its surplus food to neighboring poor countries.