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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Scenario 2030 - investing in a safe future.

The year 2030 – let’s call it the target year.
The target – to adequately adapt to a changing climate and a changing landscape.
Why 2030?
By then the world’s sea levels are expected to rise by about 1.37 meters. Today around 100 million people around the world live within 1 meter of the sea levels. This is number will only increase in the next couple of years.
The rising seas will pose a variety of problems both at the micro as well as the macro level.  Resettlement of the displaced population, ensuring and maintaining adequate security, law and order, disaster control etc. would challenge every government on the face of the earth. But the one problem that would most likely suffocate these governments into giving up is food security. You can read more about this in my book ‘Wake up Mangalore… or be damned!’
I was raised in a small coastal city surrounded by lush green paddy fields and coconut plantations. But today, I can hardly see this greenery.  This is the case in most countries – wherein the lucrative real estate rates are persuading farmers into selling their fertile agricultural land. The advent of technology however has kept the demand and supply gap more or less within controllable limits. But with an unpredictable weather looming large, soil patterns constantly changing and water availability fast decreasing – keeping this gap small is a challenge.
But we need not panic, as we have plenty of solutions at hand. The only thing that needs to change is our proactiveness in implementing them.
One such solution is agroforestry.
Agroforestry can be defined as the integration of crops and livestock systems with trees. If implemented scientifically it has the potential to allow the farmer to increase the efficiency of land use, boost yields and also help in increasing the ever decreasing carbon sink.
For a farmer – agroforestry has tremendous benefits. On farm trees (the right kind) help replenish nutrient deficient soil. This eliminates the necessity to use chemical fertilizers. These trees may also bear fruit that can be used locally and sold – adding to the farmer’s revenue. These trees may also provide fodder for the livestock reducing fodder costs. In total it is a win-win situation for a farmer.
Sadly, I have no agricultural land except for a small back yard. What much can I do?
Don’t get disheartened and give up! There is a lot we can do!
To begin with, plant a few indigenous fruit trees in your yard. Consider this as an investment you are making for your children. You could also invest in agroforestry schemes and contribute to NGOs undertaking such missions. Remember the biggest challenge our children will face is finding adequate quantity of nutritious food. And we have a golden opportunity here. Let’s not let this one pass!